Windsor gears up for its second UK royal wedding of the year

Windsor gears up for its second UK royal wedding of the year
Everything you need to know about Princess Eugenies wedding
In this Saturday, May 20, 2017 photo, Britains Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank arrive for the wedding of Pippa Middleton and James Matthews at St Marks Church in Englefield, England. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

WINDSOR, England — Its time for another royal wedding at Windsor Castle — but this time its less of a global TV spectacle and more of a family affair.

Despite large signs at the castles ticket booth welcoming people to the wedding, many visitors seem unaware that Princess Eugenie, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, will marry tequila company executive James Brooksbank Friday.

Photos taken today reveal the extensive preparations being carried out ahead of the high-profile event, with police dog handlers sweeping the streets and local officials erecting crowd control barriers in anticipation of the influx of visitors tomorrow.

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"No interest," said Michael Taylor, a drummer from Chicago who toured the imposing castle Wednesday — but didnt know a wedding was being planned on the grounds. "I dont know anything about her. If she walked past me right now, I wouldnt even know."

Representatives from 13 charities – including The Salvation Armys Stop Modern Slavery campaign and the Teenage Cancer Trust – are among the 1,200 members of the public invited to join the celebrations in the grounds of Windsor Castle tomorrow. 

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Eugenie is the 28-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, and ninth in line for the throne. She has lived most of her life outside the media spotlight, and keeps a low profile compared to cousins Prince William and Prince Harry and their glamorous wives.

A further 850 guests, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and celebrities like Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Field, will attend the hour-long service inside St Georges Chapel.

Thats reflected in the souvenir shops that line the streets leading to the imposing castle. Royal wedding merchandise fill the windows — but they feature Harry and Meghan Markle, who also married at Windsor Castle in May in a spectacular, globally televised ceremony.

Only a few Halloween face masks feature Eugenie, though some shopkeepers say that will change in the hours ahead of her wedding.

"Its going to be shirts and some mugs. A few people have been asking for it, but compared to Harry-Meghan, its not that big," said Salman Khan at The King and Queen gift shop. Eugenie items have been hard to find because only a few suppliers are manufacturing them, he added.

Princess Eugenie has revealed that modern slavery victims and teenage cancer patients will be at her wedding to represent causes close to her heart.

"This is different, but its still quite good for the town. The whole town is still excited. Its going to be a good day for everybody," he said.

Snippets of the wedding will be shown on British TV, but only one channel, ITV, is planning to provide live coverage of the proceedings.

Eugenie and Brooksbank are following a precedent set by Harry and Meghan by inviting 1,200 members of the public to the castle grounds for a better view of Fridays festivities.

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Like Harry and Meghan, the couple will also say their vows in St. Georges Chapel, a masterpiece of the "perpendicular Gothic" style with royal connections dating back to 1475, when construction began under King Edward IV.

Afterward, the newlyweds plan a carriage ride through the streets of Windsor to give the public a chance to see them up close.

Its not clear how many visitors will come to Windsor, a riverside town about 20 miles (32 kilometres) west of London. Part of the draw will be the chance to catch a glimpse of the queen and other royals, including William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and their two young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

George, 5, will be a page boy in the bridal party, and three-year-old Charlotte will be one of six bridesmaids. It is not clear if their youngest brother, five-month-old Prince Louis, will attend.

Eugenie is following tradition by not revealing who designed her wedding gown, but she has said it will be a British designer. She has asked her older sister, Princess Beatrice, to be her maid of honour.

Eugenie has worked for several years in a fulltime position with the Hauser and Wirth art gallery in London.

Brooksbank, 32, has asked his brother Thomas to be his best man. He and Eugenie have dated for many years. The couple says he got down on one knee and proposed in January during a trip to Nicaragua while the couple was visiting a spectacular lake next to a volcano.

The queen, who has only just returned from an extended summer holiday in Scotland, plans to host a champagne luncheon for the newlyweds shortly after the ceremony, and a second reception will be held that night.

The luncheon with the queen is expected to be a quiet, muted affair — reflecting the 92-year-old monarchs advanced years — with the nighttime shindig seen as a chance for the younger generations to step out in style.

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The presence of so many royals — and a number of celebrity guests — has prompted extra security measures to be put in place.

Police teams have been meticulously checking and sealing water drains near the castle, and sniffer dogs are checking for explosives in the royal-themed shops, restaurants and tea rooms frequented by tourists.

The royal family is paying for the wedding, but the anti-monarchist group Republic is lobbying Parliament to prevent any public money from being spent on security or other wedding-related costs.

The group says Eugenie does not carry out royal duties and that weddings are personal, private occasions, not affairs of state. It has criticized the royals for using weddings as "PR exercises" and expecting taxpayers to pick up part of the tab.

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These concerns arent popular in Windsors business community, where the surging popularity of the royal family in recent years — and the afterglow of Harry and Meghans wedding — has helped bring in visitors in recent months.

"We are getting a lot of American and Chinese and Spanish visitors," said Jag Khaira at the Nell Gwynn Tearoom. "A lot of tourists dont even know about this wedding Friday, but it will bring in the crowds and should be a good day for us."

A police search dog and handler patrol outside Windsor Castle ahead of the wedding of Princess Eugenie in Windsor, England, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

A Princess Eugenie mask, second left, is displayed for sale with other masks in a souvenir shop ahead of the wedding of Princess Eugenie in Windsor, England, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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Royal wedding fever has gripped the nation again with Princess Eugenie set to marry Jack Brooksbank later this week.

And while her dress designer has been kept closely under wraps, her aversion to meringue shoulders means its unlikely she will follow in her mothers footsteps with a statement puffy sleeve. 

Which is just as well, as Fergies infamous 1986 Lindka Cierach number – with its 17ft train and 20ft veil – has just been voted among the nations least favourite royal wedding dresses.

The new research, from JD Williams, set out to examine Britains best-loved bridal gowns of the past 100 years and, unsurprisingly, the Duchess of Cambridge took the top spot.

A new survey has revealed Britains favourite royal wedding dress in the run-up to Princess Eugenies wedding. Top of the list was the dress worn by the Duchess of Cambridge (pictured at her wedding in 2011, wore a gown designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen)