Royal wedding to host 1,900 guests

Almost 2,000 guests have been invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Their names have not been released but the Westminster Abbey congregation is expected to feature celebrities, leading politicians, heads of state and royalty from across the world.

Around 1,900 people will watch William and Kate exchange their marriage vows on April 29, with more than half the guests drawn from the couple's family and friends, St James's Palace have announced.

But many royal watchers will be waiting to see if leading world figures like US President Barack Obama, singer Elton John or rapper Kanye West are amongst those taking their seats in the Abbey.

The number of guests will be reduced for the lunchtime reception, where around 600 relatives, friends and dignitaries will toast the couple at Buckingham Palace.

The evening dinner followed by dancing will be a more intimate affair, with just 300 of the couple's loved ones gathering at the palace.

The event may be the marriage of two people but those invited reflect William's position as second-in-line to the throne, with a host of UK and foreign dignitaries also on the list.

More than 200 members of the Government, parliament and diplomatic corps will be amongst the guests along with 60 Governors-General and prime ministers from the Queen's Commonwealth realms, and more than 40 foreign royals.

William's charities will be represented by 80 people and 30 members of the defence services have been invited - a number expected to include the heads of the three Armed services.

There will also be representatives from the Church and other faiths.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be at the head of the royal family group filling the pews, along with the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and William's best man Prince Harry.

More than 50 members of the monarchy in total will be present.

Kate's parents Michael and Carole Middleton will take pride of place in the Abbey along with sister Pippa, her maid of honour, brother James and other relatives.

Prime Minister David Cameron with wife Samantha, and opposition leader Ed Miliband and his partner Justine Thornton, are also likely to be on the guest list.

Celebrities attending could include Sir Elton, a friend of William's mother Diana, Princess of Wales, or figures like singer Joss Stone and Kanye West, who both performed at the 2007 tribute concert for Diana.

Presenter Ben Fogle and ITN's political editor Tom Bradby are both friends of William and could also be present.

The prince is associated, as patron or president, with more than a dozen charities and organisations.

He is likely to have invited guests from his most prominent charitable interests - the homeless organisation Centrepoint, Tusk Trust, a wildlife conservation group and the Royal Marsden Hospital.

The couple's friends are likely to be represented by university and schoolmates, the prince's polo pals and his clubbing set.

Prominent faces could include the van Cutsem brothers, Edward, Hugh, Nicholas and William, as well as banker James Tollemache and William and Kate's former housemate Fergus Boyd.

Nightclub impresario Guy Pelly, Sir Richard Branson's daughter Holly and the prince's close friend Thomas van Straubenzee could also be amongst the guests.

The invites in their pale brown envelopes have been landing on doormats and in post boxes during the past few days.

The white cards are gilded along their edge with gold and the royal cypher - EIIR, the initials of the Queen, below a crown - is die-stamped on the invitation using the precious metal.

Below the cypher, with a space left for the guest's name, are the words - 'The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by the Queen to the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales K.G. with Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on Friday, 29th April, 2011 at 11.00am.'

The Lord Chamberlain's Office is handling the ceremonial and formal elements of the wedding preparations and guests are asked to reply to his office.

The dress requirements are also stipulated on the card - 'uniform, morning coat or lounge suit'.

David Beckham's spokesman would not confirm whether the footballer and his wife, Victoria, were invited.

"We're not discussing it," he said, adding that it was a private matter.

A spokesman for the Duchess of York confirmed she has not been invited to the wedding.

He said: "She won't be attending and she was never expecting to attend. She's going to be overseas at the time."

Asked whether she was invited, he said: "She wasn't and she never thought she would be."

He added: "She's not undertaking any commercial engagements around the wedding either."

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