Royal wedding invitations in the mail

Prince William and bride-to-be Kate Middleton send invitations to their hotly anticipated royal wedding to about 1,900 guests.
People will be watching their mail in hopes of getting an invitation to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, set for April 29. ((AP) )

Prince William and bride-to-be Kate Middleton have sent invitations to their hotly anticipated royal wedding to about 1,900 guests, officials said Sunday.

St. James's Palace said military personnel and charity workers would mingle with European royalty, diplomats and the family and friends of the couple at the Westminster Abbey ceremony on April 29.

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh will lead a group of 50 members of the British royal family at the wedding, while about 40 representatives of foreign royal families — likely to include dignitaries from Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Greece — will also attend.

It isn't yet known whether celebrities including singer Elton John, a friend of William's mother Diana, the Princess of Wales, or Kanye West, a favourite of the prince who performed at a 2007 tribute concert for his mother, are among those who'll receive a prized invitation.

In a statement, William's office insisted it would not disclose details of individual guests. Royal officials also declined to confirm reports that William's aunt, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, won't be invited.

Royal historian Hugo Vickers said details of the guest list released so far suggested ordinary members of the public wouldn't have a prominent role.

"I think what this tells us is that they are a very traditional couple," Vickers said. "It strikes me as an entirely sensible and predictable type of list, looking to balance the need to invite all the people who should be there — because William will one day be king — with inviting those who they want to be there."

Ordinary well-wishers will instead throng the capital's streets, watching Middleton arrive at Westminster Abbey by car, but leave with her new husband in a horse-drawn carriage to parade through the heart of ceremonial London to Buckingham Palace.

Tourists and Britons alike will crowd close to the palace after the ceremony, hoping to catch a glimpse of William and his bride as they present themselves on the building's famous balcony.

Millions more will watch the ceremony and celebrations on live television — crowded around screens in their homes, at street parties in towns and villages and at major landmarks. Lawmakers are already lobbying London Mayor Boris Johnson to install a giant screen in the city's iconic Trafalgar Square.

At Westminster Abbey, Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg will likely be among 200 lawmakers, government staff and diplomats invited, with high-profile ambassadors also expected to attend.

Leaders of several Commonwealth nations, and the governors general who represent the Queen in Canada, Australia and New Zealand — are also thought certain to be included among guests.

Vickers said many European royals likely to attend are closer in age to William, second in line to the throne, than his father Charles — suggesting the guest list may have a more youthful feel than royal weddings of the past.

William named his younger brother Harry as his best man, while Middleton's sister Pippa will act as her maid of honour.

 William's office said the invitation cards — with text die-stamped in gold and gilded edges — were mailed out in pale brown envelopes on Wednesday and Thursday. Each bears the Queen's royal seal and invites guests to attend the ceremony at 11 a.m. Attendees are asked to dress in "uniform, morning coat or lounge suit."

About 600 people will later attend a lunch reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen, while just 300 are invited to a formal wedding dinner and dance at the palace.