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April 27, 2011

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48-hr whirlwind tour of London

GOT 48 hours to explore the British capital where a prince's love will transform an ordinary girl into a princess this Friday? Explore royal London amid the hoopla of Prince William's marriage to his university sweetheart Kate Middleton.



You'd better arrive at least a day ahead of the wedding and familiarize yourself with some of the local culture and go for a pint.

Ditch the ubiquitous lager dens dotted around the capital in favor of a visit to the "pub of the year" as chosen by Britain's Campaign for Real Ale.

The Harp in Chandos Place lies in the shadow of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, near to Covent Garden shopping, dining, Leicester Square, the theater district and the pubs and clubs of Soho.


Dine with the ruling class at Rules restaurant ( in Covent Garden. It's a popular dining spot for the privately educated elite.

Top up at the bar with a pre-dinner drink of "Kate Middleton's" - Tanqueray gin, Pinky vodka, Lillet, crystallized violet and rose petals, with a squeeze of lemon.


Have your own faux stag do or hen party at one of the night clubs favored by the young royals.

Cut loose at Whisky Mist (, get your Middleton mojo on at Mahiki ( or shake your aristocratic booty at Boujis ( until the wee hours.



Get up! Get out! If you want to catch even a glimpse of Wills and Kate on their big day, you'll have to wade through the forming crowds already to find a good perch along the procession route, which runs from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace.

The couple will be whisked by cars to the Abbey before the ceremony, but on the way back they will be in a horse-drawn, open-topped carriage with a mounted cavalry escort in a procession that will include the queen, the prince of Wales and other royals.

Good spots to stand along the route include The Mall, a wide red-colored boulevard that leads up to Buckingham Palace.


If you are on The Mall or along the procession route, you won't be far from Green Park, which means you're only steps away from a decent breakfast. Take turns with your friends to hold your spot and head across the park to get a regally delicious breakfast at the Ritz hotel (


Hunker down and wait. There will be cars carrying royals and dignitaries past on their way to the abbey for the 11am service.


William and Kate will leave the abbey as man and wife. Get your camera ready because any moment they will be coming past.


William, Kate, the queen and the rest of the royal family will appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a fly past from the Royal Air Force, a wave to the crowds and perhaps a royal kiss.


The public part of the wedding could all be over by now or fairly soon. If you haven't had the foresight to pack a lunch, get a picnic hamper or manage to fight your way into a nearby sandwich shop then go directly to The Wolseley (, just up the road from the Ritz, Nobu ( on Berkeley St or grab a sandwich in a shop on Piccadilly.


Get the royal look. Those smart uniforms on William and other royals were tailored on nearby Savile Row, the home of bespoke British tailoring for centuries. Drop in to Gieves and Hawkes (, Norton and Sons ( or Anderson & Sheppard ( to get an idea of what's on offer.


Go for tea. Claridges ( was named by the UK Tea Council as London's top afternoon tea place for 2011 and it's just around the corner. Make sure you book in advance and obey the dress code: elegant smart casual; no shorts, vests, sportswear, flip flops, ripped jeans or baseball caps.


Why not end your day with your own top-class dining experience? There are some 140 restaurants in Britain with Michelin stars. Two of those are in London. One is Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road ( in Chelsea, the other is Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester hotel (



Head to the Tower of London ( Founded by William the Conqueror after his 1066 invasion of England, the Tower has been a royal palace, a place of execution, a prison for traitors and still holds Britain's Crown jewels.


Cross over Tower Bridge, turn left and go for lunch at one of the many restaurants on the South Bank. For top dining, try Le Pont de la Tour which overlooks the Thames, or slightly less formal dining at the Chop House and Blueprint Cafe.


Head back toward Tower Bridge and keep walking past it. Here are the Mayor's round and gleaming glass and steel offices.

Take in the last few hours at the nearby Tate Modern Museum (, housed in an imposing converted power station. You can go for a ride on the giant London Eye ( Ferris wheel or cross the Millennium footbridge for a visit to Christopher Wren's magnificent St Paul's Cathedral (, where Charles and Diana were married.

Wedding timings

8:15am - The congregation begin arriving at the Great North Door of London's Westminster Abbey.

9:50am - Governors-General and Prime Ministers of Realm Countries, the Diplomatic Corps and other noble guests arrive.

10:10am - Prince William and his brother and best man Prince Harry leave Clarence House.

10:25am - Junior members of the royal family leave Buckingham Palace.

10:35am - William's uncles Prince Edward and Prince Andrew and his aunt Princess Anne will leave the palace with family members.

10:38am - William's father Prince Charles will leave Clarence House with his wife Camilla.

10:40am - Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are the last royals to leave.

10:48am - The bridesmaids and page boys leave the Goring.

10:51am - Middleton and her father Michael leave the hotel.

11am - The marriage service begins.

12:15pm - William and Middleton will leave the Abbey in a carriage and return to Buckingham Palace followed by other senior members of the royal family.

12:30pm - The newlyweds arrive at the palace.

12:40pm - The other royals, both British and foreign, arrive back at the palace.

1:25pm - The queen, William and Middleton and their families appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

1:30pm -A fly past by aircraft from the Royal Air Force and World War II planes from the Battle of Britain Flight.


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