Prince William's wedding will be safe: minister

LONDON Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:06pm EST

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's Counter-Terrorism Minister said on Thursday she was confident the April wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton would pass off safely.

Tourist chiefs predict thousands of visitors will descend on London and the eyes of the world will be on the British capital when William and his long-term girlfriend get married at Westminster Abbey on April 29.

Britain is currently at its second highest threat level of "severe," meaning an attack from militants is considered highly likely, and commentators say the wedding poses an obvious target.

"A properly planned effort will swing into action to ensure that that occasion is incident-free," Security Minister Pauline Neville-Jones told Reuters in an interview.

"I think we are always concerned ... any event is something we have to take very seriously."

Many people are expected to camp out on London's streets on the eve of the big day and throng the route of the wedding procession.

Media have also reported that activists opposed to the government's drastic cuts to public spending will target the event, as taxpayers are picking up the bill for its security. "There will be obviously a very big policing effort of a normal kind, but on a rather large scale," Neville-Jones said.

"The second thing obviously is protecting the route, protecting the individuals against all possible threats. I would say now we are now pretty experienced at doing this."

"Big gatherings of any kind is something we will take seriously both from the point of view of policing the event in the normal way and also from the point of view of any threats that could come." Neville-Jones, who also has responsibility for the security of the London Olympics in 2012, agreed militants would be interested in targeting such events.

"You would expect ... where there is a terrorist threat, that terrorists will be interested in the possibilities. That's a separate thing from saying do we have specific knowledge."

She repeated her assertion that the necessary action was being taken to protect the Olympics.

"This is being planned extremely carefully and I am certainly satisfied at the moment that the plans that are being put in place, the manner of their execution, the resources being devoted to them, do meet the need," she said.

"We will have to be vigilant right up to the moment, they start right through the Games."

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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