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Wednesday, January 6, 1999 Published at 17:51 GMT


Wedding will be 'modern and elegant'

St George's Chapel: Sophie and Edward hope to marry at Windsor

With only a few months to go before the wedding of the year between Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones, details about the big day are sketchy.

No decisions have yet been taken on the best man, bridesmaids, wedding dress or honeymoon. Even the date of the marriage has yet to be announced. But that does not stop the gossip columnists from speculating.

[ image: The ring: Diamonds set in white gold]
The ring: Diamonds set in white gold
Fashion writers are predicting that the bride-to-be will pick a modern and elegant dress to match her engagement ring - a cluster of three diamonds set in 18-carat white golde bought at royal jewllers Asprey & Garrard.

Whichever designer gets the commission to make the wedding dress will see a rise in their status.

Edward's biographer Ingrid Seward: Couple conscious of public opinion
The front-runner at the moment is Tomasz Starzewski, who has been Miss Rhys-Jones's favourite designer since 1996.

"I reckon she will probably go for something classical and simple, probably Tomasz," said Harpers & Queen social editor, Camilla Cecil.

"I am sure it will be a romantic occasion, but I don't think the dress needs to be over-the-top to be romantic. Sophie is a working woman with a very busy social life and her clothes do tend to be very classic.

"I think she will also have a look at Robinson Valentine and Amanda Wakeley."

'White wedding'

For Harpers & Queen it is unthinkable that Miss Rhys-Jones will wed in anything but white or ivory.

The BBC's Edward Stourton reports on three weddings and an engagement
"White weddings are fashionable again, and I am sure Sophie will have a white wedding," said Ms Cecil.

Everyone remembers David and Elizabeth Emanuel's gown for Diana - a voluminous ivory skirt with a fitted bodice and immense 25ft train.

The gown swallowed up a 40 metre roll of silk taffeta. Plans to make it out of British silk had to be abandoned when the country's only silkworm colony could not meet the demand.

[ image: Princess Diana's dress: An immense train]
Princess Diana's dress: An immense train
The veil sparkled with 10,000 mother of pearl sequins and 100 metres of net was used for the underskirt.

But Ms Cecil said for all the talk of this year's wedding being low-key, it would not be understated.

"It will be quite a big affair - I don't think you can have a small Royal wedding," she said.

'A wonderful setting'

If Sophie and Edward have their way, St Georges Chapel in Windsor will be the setting for the marriage that will catapult Sophie Rhys-Jones into the limelight.

BBC Correspondent Duncan Kennedy: Royal rings often become trend-setters
Prince Edward, who spent a great deal of his childhood at Windsor, explained why he would like to get married there.

"I just have always enjoyed St George's and Windsor especially. It's just a wonderful setting. It's a glorious piece of architecture and it's somewhere slightly different."

The building was unaffected by the fire in 1992 that devastated Windsor Castle and it can can hold up to 1,000 people.

The last royal wedding there was between Lady Helen Windsor and Tim Taylor in 1992.

The Chapel has also been the scene of royal christenings, confirmations and burials.

Prince Edward himself was confirmed in the chapel in 1978, as was his brother Andrew. Prince William was confirmed in St George's Chapel in 1997 and in 1984 his brother, Harry, was one of the only royal babies in recent years to be christened there.

[ image: Couple rejected the grander Westminster Abbey]
Couple rejected the grander Westminster Abbey
Although smaller than Westminster Abbey, the building is one of the finest examples of the "Perpendicular Gothic" style, with a magnificent vaulted roof and stunning West Window with images of 75 figures of popes, kings, princes and saints.

Because of its location within Windsor Castle, stringent security arrangements are already in place.

Private occasion

The couple is hoping for a low-key ceremony. "I think getting married is a very personal thing," Miss Rhys-Jones told the media, "and naturally there is going to be more interest in us than, obviously, with other people, but it is a personal matter and it is a family occasion."

The ceremony will contrast with the pomp and circumstance of the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 in St Paul's cathedral. Five years later there was more public celebration when Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York married in Westminster Abbey.

Princess Anne's second marriage - to Commander Tim Lawrence in 1992 -it was altogether a different affair with just family and friends at the Balmoral estate.

Grand royal weddings are probably a thing of the past and the Royal Family is probably conscious that the public does not wish to see their taxes spent on lavish arrangements.

"They are obviously very influenced by public feeling against them in past years and managed to gain back popularity over the last year," said Prince Edward's royal biographer, Ingrid Seward. "I think to have something very flamboyant right now is probably not what they want."

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