Archbishop praises "unpretentious" Kate and William

LONDON Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:55pm BST

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, waits for Pope Benedict XVI to arrive at Lambeth Palace in London September 17, 2010. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, waits for Pope Benedict XVI to arrive at Lambeth Palace in London September 17, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Archbishop of Canterbury, who will marry Prince William and Kate Middleton next week, said on Thursday he had been struck by their wedding preparations, describing the couple as courageous and unpretentious.

Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the Church of England, praised the couple's "simplicity" and the way they had dealt with the build-up to next Friday's wedding, which is set to be watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide.

"I've been very struck by the way in which William and Catherine have approached this great event," Williams said in a short film released by his Lambeth Palace office, adding it had been a "real pleasure" to get to know the couple.

"They've thought through what they want for themselves, but also what they want to say. They've had a very simple, very direct picture of what really matters about this event."

The Archbishop said he thought the couple had a "clear sense" of what they believed their wedding meant and hoped their very public commitment would inspire others with a message of hopefulness and generosity.

"They're responsible to the whole society, and responsible to God for their relationship. And I think it's impressive that they've had that simplicity about it, they've known what matters, what's at the heart of all this," he said.

"They've worked towards that. Because I think that they are deeply unpretentious people, and that message about taking that responsibility sensibly, realistically, courageously, comes over very strongly in conversation with them."

The Dean of Westminster will conduct the April 29 ceremony at Westminster Abbey and Williams will marry the couple while the Bishop of London Richard Chartres, who knows William well, will give the address.

Williams, who said he felt privileged to be playing a part in the event, said the newlyweds would need support and prayers for a future which is destined to always be in the spotlight and scrutinised by the media.

"I want to wish them especially the courage and clarity they'll need to live out this big commitment in the full glare of the public eye -- to live it out for the rest of us," he said.

"I hope they'll be given the strength and the persistence to go on showing the rest of us what's possible for the whole of their life together."

(Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato)