Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are not on the guest list – but since this isn’t, as we’ve noted, a state occasion (Prince William is only SECOND in line to the throne, after his father), there’s no reason why they should be. Still John Major will be there, but that’s because he is a Knight of Garter, according to Palace spokesmen. Baroness Margaret Thatcher, also a Knight of the Garter, was also invited but is not well enough to come, either.
Predictably, the seating plan has come in for some scrutiny: The Telegraph reports that Westminster' Abbely’s layout ensures that “only the couples nearest and dearest will be able to view the ceremony for themselves.” The article provides a handy diagram showing the seating arrangements.
Only (!) about 1,000 people will sit in the coveted section of the Abbey in front of the Quire, a partition in the building which restricts the view of the altar to anyone behind it. The rest of the guests in the abbey will have to be content with watching the ceremony on jumbo television screens.
There’s no bride’s side nor groom’s side – Diana’s family, the Spencers, will sit next to the Middletons in a section in the front of the Abbey known as the “South Lantern,” and across the aisle will be the Royal Family in the “North Lantern.” They will be the closest to the Sanctuary, where the royal couple will take their vows. The next best seats are reserved for foreign royal families (both sitting monarchs and those who can only wish they were sitting on the throne:
There’s some controversy over this.
Peter Tatchell, a human rights activist and member of the Green Party, expressed outrage that Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa,of Bahrain – who violently suppressed democracy protests earlier this year in that tiny Gulf state – is on the list, along with King Mswati III of Swaziland, another dictator who has used armed security forces to brutally crack down on opponents.
Libya’s ambassador to Britain was originally invited, but had his invitation rescinded after fighting broke out, but Zimbabwe's ambassador to Britain, Gabriel Machinga, is expected to attend.
And then there’s this interesting insight from The Telegraph: “Another familiar face will be Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, the television presenter and socialite, who has had her nose corrected for the occasion. The proboscis, which was rebuilt in 2006 after years of cocaine abuse, had collapsed. Happily, she is now a reformed character.”
She is a reformed character? Or her nose?