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The call of the aisle

Will and Kate will likely follow in family footsteps, wherever they choose to tie the knot

The call of the aisle

Adrian Dennis/WPA/Getty Images, Andy Williams/Zuma/Keystone Press, Dan Kitwood/Getty Images | Charles and Di chose St. Paul’s Cathedral; generations of Windsors have said ‘I do’ at Westminster Abbey or St. George’s Chapel

When you’re the future king of Britain, and your options for a wedding venue are haunted by a minefield of failed family marriages, choosing a church is no simple task. Following the announcement by Prince William and Kate Middleton that their nuptials will “take place in London” next year, betting began on the site of the royal ceremony.

The historic central London venues, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, came in as favourites. The latter, a baroque cathedral inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is steeped in enough British history to befit a future sovereign. It was the site of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and the 80th and 100th birthdays of the queen mother. On a practical note, the dome-topped church is known for its excellent acoustics and dramatically long procession route.

For these reasons, Charles and Diana settled on St. Paul’s for their “wedding of the century.” But while that marriage ended catastrophically in 1996, the doomed legacy of Will’s parents may not stop Will and Kate from picking this spot. William already gave his bride-to-be the ring his mother wore, signalling that the site of his parents’ failed marriage may not be a deal-breaker.

Another royal option is nearby Westminster Abbey, also located in central London. The Gothic church has been at the centre of wedding ceremonies over the generations, including the marriages of both William’s great-grandparents, and grandparents (Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and then Princess Elizabeth). More recently, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, Prince Andrew, tied the knot with Sarah Ferguson in a grand 1986 spectacle at Westminster. Of course, Fergie and Andrew also split 10 years after marrying. In a similar vein, Princess Anne—Andrew’s sister—married there, and later divorced.

But other painful family memories haunt Westminster. Diana’s funeral was held in the abbey, following a tragic car crash that ended her life. So its white-and-black-tiled aisle is the same one William walked, behind his mother’s coffin, at age 15.

Will and Kate could opt out of London, and head for St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle—always a popular wedding scene for royals. Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones got hitched here 1999 in a low-key (by royal standards) service. Edward is, in fact, the only one of the Queen’s children who has not divorced, and the only one to marry in a non-London wedding. Perhaps Kate and Will should follow his uncle’s lead, and take the wedding show to Windsor.