How the North East would stage a Royal Wedding

PUBLISHED: 01:16 26 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:15 20 February 2013

Durham Cathedral, perfect location for the Royal Wedding ceremony. Picture by Andrew Smith

Durham Cathedral, perfect location for the Royal Wedding ceremony. Picture by Andrew Smith

The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton later this week will show London at its best. But Andrew Smith argues that it could have been staged just as successfully in the North East

London will look splendid for the marriage on April 29 of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Nobody does such occasions quite like the British and the eyes of the world will be on our capital city for every moment of the occasion.

But what if Kate Middleton had insisted on coming back to the North East, her ancestral home prior to the time of her great grandfather, to marry her prince close to her own familys roots? How might this region have staged such an event.

Weve compiled our own unique itinerary to ensure that the day would pass just as successfully in the North East as it undoubtedly will in London.

The wedding would surely take place in Durham Cathedral, described recently by author Bill Bryson as the best cathedral on Planet Earth.
Built to house the remains of St Cuthbert, whose shrine continues to attract thousands of pilgrims each year, the 900-year-old cathedral would easily accommodate all the official guests at the wedding with the solemnity, majesty and soaring jubilation befitting such a regal occasion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury assisted by the Bishop of Durham could conduct the marriage ceremony wearing robes provided by J and M Sewing Services Ltd, of Charlotte Square, Newcastle, who were warranted by Her Majesty the Queen in 2007 as suppliers of clerical robes.

Durham itself would provide a wonderful backdrop for the horse-drawn processions to and from the cathedral and the intimacy of a welcoming, North East crowd of well-wishers would leave a lasting impression on the Royal couple and their families and guests.

Horses fit for royal duty would almost certainly be stabled on Bedmax shavings, supplied by Bedmax of Belford, Northumberland, who were appointed as manufacturers of horse bedding by the Queen in 2008.

The historic Durham Castle, across Palace Green from the cathedral, could easily hold the wedding reception, or an informal canaps reception, in the 800-year-old Great Hall, but we suggest that the wedding party would ideally progress to Alnwick, seat of our most noble Northern family, for photographs and the reception, allowing up to four million of the Queens subjects in the North East to wish William and Kate well and affording the wedding guests from around the world the opportunity of gaining a real flavour of the region during their journey.

They would pass the Angel of the North, the newest icon of the North East, before travelling through Gateshead to the Tyne Bridge, opened by Prince Williams great great grandfather, King George V, in 1928.

Newcastle would be awash with revellers who have gained an enviable reputation for their city as the party capital of the UK. Tempted though the young royals might be to stay in Newcastle - Prince Andrews daughter Eugenie knows the city particularly well as a student at Newcastle University - the wedding party will proceed north through Gosforth and past Newcastle Racecourse, scene of many triumphs for the Queens horses over the years.

Heading north on the A1, the wedding cars will pass through the former South Northumberland coalfield near Wideopen and Seaton Burn, reminding Kate that her great grandfather on her mothers side, Thomas Harrison, was born the son of miner John Harrison and his wife, Jane, at Hetton-le-Hole, in County Durham, in 1904.

Thomas, a carpenter, decided the mines werent for him and after his marriage to County Durham girl Elizabeth Mary Temple and the birth of their daughter Dorothy in Sunderland in 1935, he moved to London to ply his trade.

The crowds along the roadside would increase dramatically as the party reached town of Morpeth, which was granted a market town charter by King John in 1199. The final half hour of the journey to Alnwick would take the wedding party through some of Northumberlands finest countryside, favoured by generations of members of the Royal family for private visits and hunting and shooting parties.

Then, into Alnwick Castle to be welcomed by Their Graces, the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, who themselves celebrated the wedding of their eldest daughter Lady Katie Percy to City financier Patrick Valentine, only in February this year.

The Castle hosted the reception for 300 guests and it was widely rumoured that William and Kate were invited to the wedding, although other engagements prevented them from attending. It is also understood that Lady Katie and her new husband are on the Royal wedding guest list.

Photographs would be taken in Alnwick Garden, of course, the imaginative multi-million pound creation of the Duchess of Northumberland and now billed as the most exciting contemporary garden on earth. What better location for a wedding album that will serve as an important record of our times for centuries to come?

The only difficulty in retaining the attention of every guest during the reception in the magical surroundings of the film location for the Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle will come with preventing the grooms father from sneaking away to Hardy and Greys of Alnwick, who have held the warrant to supply fishing tackle to the Prince of Wales since 1980.

How Prince Charles would wish to find time in the day for a visit to the showroom, museum and factory where his favoured rods and tackle are made.

So, William and Kate, it might be somewhat late in the day to change the arrangements, but if you had wished to hold your wedding out
of London, the North East of England would have provided a wonderfully regal, dignified and welcoming location. n

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