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Posted at 2:22 AM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Sorting out the guest list

By Autumn Brewington

The Telegraph published a lengthy article by biographer and historian Hugo Vickers on the "secrets" and complications of assembling a guest list for a royal wedding. While the big question is who will be invited to the ceremony uniting Prince William and Kate Middleton, the bulk of the piece focuses on diplomatic complications behind the guest list of another royal wedding: that of Princess Alexandra to Angus Ogilvy.

Princess Alexandra is the queen's cousin and the daughter of the late duke of Kent; she married Ogilvy in Westminster Abbey on April 24, 1963. Vickers attributes his vignettes to an "eye-opening" recent trip to the National Archives, writing that:

Through her mother [Princess Marina], Princess Alexandra was related to most of the Royal Houses of Europe. Together, they personally invited more than 100 royal relations. In addition, Princess Alexandra had travelled widely before her marriage, including to Thailand, Cambodia, Japan and Burma, so besides royal relations and friends, she wanted to ask those who had entertained her on her foreign royal tours.

At this point, the Foreign Office got involved, copious memos passing between Sir Philip Hay, Princess Marina's Private Secretary, and the long-suffering Vice-Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, Dugald Malcolm, a man adept at pouring diplomatic oil on troubled waters.

It's an interesting historical take, with a few tidbits such as the claim that the Spencers were allowed only 30 personal guests to the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. But when we see easy errors -- Diana's father was Earl Spencer, not Lord Spencer, for instance -- we wonder how much stock to put in other assertions, such as the number of personal Spencer guests or the claim that Johnny Spencer wanted to wear a uniform to walk Diana down the aisle and his daughter "forbade it."

By Autumn Brewington  | January 4, 2011; 2:22 AM ET
Categories:  Ceremony, Guest list, Kate Middleton, Prince William  
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