A Royal Wedding

Britain's Prince William will marry his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, next year

November 17, 2010

Love is in the air! Britain is abuzz with the news that wedding bells will ring for Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne, and Kate Middleton, the woman who may someday become queen. The couple began dating eight years ago. They announced their engagement on Tuesday. Both are 28 years old.

"We're hugely excited," William said Tuesday, on television. "We're looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together." William gave Kate the diamond and sapphire engagement ring that was worn by his mother, Diana, who was once married to William's father, Prince Charles. Diana died in a car crash in 1997.

What is a Monarchy?

The kings and queens of England once ruled the country. But the reform bill of 1832 moved England toward a democratic system of government. In this system, the House of Commons operates like the U.S. House of Representatives, and the prime minister has powers similar to those of the U.S. President.

The current Queen, Elizabeth II, is limited by law from actually ruling. Instead, the Queen and royal family perform ceremonial duties. They entertain foreign visitors, support charities and represent Britain on visits to other countries.

After the announcement of their engagement, British Prime Minister David Cameron wished William and Kate "great joy in their life together."

An Extravagant Event

The ceremony and celebration will be big news for Britain. Most of the money to pay for the wedding will come from the Queen herself, or from a fund provided by Parliament to meet official royal expenses. But security costs will be paid for by British taxpayers. "The couple are mindful of the current economic situation," said one of William's spokesmen.

No date or location has yet been set for the wedding, though it is expected to be held in London. The happy couple sat down with advisers one day after announcing their engagement to form a plan.


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