LONDON Prince William is to marry his fiancee Kate Middleton on Friday April 29 next year at London's Westminster Abbey, the 1,000-year-old church where the funeral was held for his mother Princess Diana.
William, son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and the late Diana, announced his engagement to long-term girlfriend Middleton last week after a courtship lasting nearly a decade.
"We know that the world will be watching on April 29 and the couple are very, very keen indeed that the spectacle should be a classic example of what Britain does best," Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, William's private secretary told reporters.
Britain is facing sharp cuts in public spending and Lowther-Pinkerton said that the royal family and the Middletons would pay for the service, reception and honeymoon.
He described the couple, both 28, as "over the moon" about their forthcoming marriage.
Westminster Abbey has been the site of coronations since William the Conqueror was crowned there in 1066 after the Norman invasion. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, was married there in 1947 and a teenaged William attended his mother Diana's 1997 funeral at the Abbey after she died in a Paris car crash.
"The couple were moved to choose the venue because of its staggering beauty, its 1,000-year royal history and in spite of its overall size, its relative intimacy," Lowther-Pinkerton said. "The venue has long associations with the royal family -- it's in many ways the royal family's church -- and of course with Prince William personally."
STRIKING A BALANCE
Retail researchers have estimated that the wedding could give a $1 billion (627 million pound) boost to the economy through the sale of mementoes and increased tourism.
Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that April 29 would be a public holiday, meaning Britons will enjoy a four-day break over the May Day weekend.
However, the couple want to combine pageantry with prudence for their wedding day.
"Prince William and Miss Middleton want to ensure that a balance is struck between an enjoyable day and the current economic situation," Lowther-Pinkerton said.
"To that end, the royal family and the Middleton family will pay for the wedding."
A royal aide said the couple had always wanted a spring wedding and for it to be held on a Friday.
The wedding will come less than a week before the likely date of a referendum on moves to change the voting system for parliament and some commentators have said it risked disrupting campaigning. However, a royal aide said Cameron was very content with the date.
"The wedding of Kate and William will be a happy and momentous occasion," Cameron said in a statement.
"We want to mark the day as one of national celebration, a public holiday will ensure the most people possible will have a chance to celebrate on the day.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)