Who is royal wedding planner? It’s British army

A file picture shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and former England's Ambassador to the US Sir David Manning (left) escorting former US President George W. Bush prior to a dinner at the Ambassador's Residence of the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Every marriage needs a wedding planner, and every bride and groom needs their advisers. For Britain's Prince William and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, while their siblings - Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton - are to be best man and maid of honour, the key roles of wedding planners and advisers belong to a small team of royal aides and assistants drawn largely from the ranks of the British military. The role of David Manning, former British ambassador to Nato and the US, is to advise the future king and queen on their future international role, representing the country abroad, and protocol (AFP)

Every marriage needs a wedding planner, and every bride and groom needs their advisers.

For Britain's Prince William and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, while their siblings - Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton - are to be best man and maid of honour, the key roles of wedding planners and advisers belong to a small team of royal aides and assistants drawn largely from the ranks of the British military.

"Most of the advisers of the royal family are from the military, and always have been," said Robert Jobson, the author of several books on the British royals.

"The queen's role as the head of state and the head of the armed forces means that they (the royal family and the army) are intrinsically linked."

For several generations the armed forces have been the finishing school for younger royals such as William and his brother, and the royal family "feels at home with them," according to Charles Kidd, editor of Debretts Peerage, the bible of the British aristocracy.

Moreover, he adds, army people know how to organise a traditional-style ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance the palace believes is required for a major royal event.

The group is headed by the prince's private secretary, a man with the redoubtable name of Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, who like William is a graduate of both the elite Eton College and the British military academy at Sandhurst.

Before a distinguished military career serving in the first Gulf War in 1991, in the special forces in Bosnia, and then in Colombia fighting drug barons, Lowther-Pinkerton already had experience of serving the royals.

In the 1980s he worked as equerry to the prince's great-grandmother, the late Queen mother, and is considered so close to the prince that his own son, also called William, will be one of the page boys at the wedding.

"He is the closest key adviser to the princes. He has a major role for the wedding and he is very heavily involved," explains a colleague at the prince's headquarters, St James's Palace, who asked not to be identified.

That role is organising the main public events of the big day: the ceremony at the Abbey, the procession from there to Buckingham Palace, and the subsequent reception. And this is where his past will help him, according to Kidd.

"His army background will be very important in the organising of the big event. People like Jamie do know how to organise ceremonial occasions. If you see the parades, they are brilliantly managed," he said.

Another key member of the team is Miguel Head, a former Ministry of Defence press officer who handled the swift return of William's brother Prince Harry from Afghanistan when a carefully-arranged media blackout was broken.

Head now leads a team of a dozen press officials who are drip-feeding information daily on the wedding to a hungry media.

Completing the team are Helen Asprey, personal private secretary to the prince, and unofficially to his future wife too, who is organising the private aspects of the day such as the private dinner, and David Manning, former British ambassador to Nato and the United States, whose role is to advise the future king and queen on their future international role, representing the country abroad, and protocol.

Ahead of the wedding, the advisers have even taken the care to organise a series of low-level public engagements to "give them a chance to experience what they can expect" on the wedding day.

 

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