Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct royal wedding

LONDON Wed Jan 5, 2011 7:48am EST

Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton (L) pose for a photograph in St. James's Palace, central London November 16, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton (L) pose for a photograph in St. James's Palace, central London November 16, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the Anglican Church, will marry Britain's Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton later this year, the prince's office said on Wednesday.

Other details about the wedding revealed that Middleton will travel to the service at London's Westminster Abbey by car along a route past the Houses of Parliament and including The Mall, the grand road leading to Buckingham Palace.

William, son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, announced his engagement to long-term girlfriend Middleton last November after a courtship lasting nearly a decade.

They have already disclosed that the wedding will take place on April 29 at the 1,000-year-old Westminster Abbey, where the funeral for Diana was held.

The prince's office, Clarence House, said the ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) and be conducted by the Dean of Westminster. Williams will marry the couple, while the Bishop of London Richard Chartres will give the address, it added.

Dickie Arbiter, the queen's former press secretary, said Chartres has close connections to William.

"He was an executor of the late Diana Princess of Wales' will; he confirmed William when William was 12; he listened to Diana when she was troubled," he told Sky News.

"(He is) the right person to be making the keynote address at the service."

After the service, the couple, both 28, will return in a carriage in a procession to Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth will hold a reception for guests from the couple's official and private lives.

In the evening, Prince Charles will host a private dinner at the palace followed by dancing for close friends and family.

With Britain facing sharp cuts in public spending, officials have said the royal family and the Middletons will jointly pay for the service, reception and honeymoon and that the couple are mindful of the economic situation.

Royal commentators said the decision for Middleton to arrive at the church by car, rather than by carriage, was an example.

Retail researchers have estimated that the wedding could give a $1 billion boost to the British economy through the sale of mementoes and increased tourism.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who revealed he had camped out on The Mall the night before Charles and Diana's wedding in 1981, has confirmed that April 29 will be a public holiday in Britain.

(Editing by Steve Addison)