Live TV blessing for Charles and Camilla

Last updated at 15:57 18 March 2005

The church blessing of the Prince of Wales's marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles is to be televised live, Clarence House has announced.

Charles and his bride's civil town hall wedding ceremony will remain private, but the religious Service of Prayer and Dedication afterwards in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, will be broadcast to the nation.

It is being presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury and will be attended by around 750 guests.

The news follows the revelation that Prince Philip may be abroad during the week of his son's wedding, according to reports.

It is believed the Prince will be back in time for the Windsor Castle ceremony but will not be attending the register office ceremony beforehand.

The move ends the uncertainty over whether the public was to be allowed to see the couple inside at any of their wedding day venues on April 8.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "It has been agreed that the service of blessing and dedication will be televised live."

The spokesman denied that this was a change of attitude following the barring of the media from the civil ceremony at Windsor's Guildhall.

"No final decisions had ever been made. The consultation took some time. All parties have agreed that televising the service in St George's is the right way forward," he said.

The spokesman said the Queen, the Prince of Wales, Mrs Parker Bowles, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Windsor were all consulted.

The BBC is to be the host broadcaster for the 45 minute service, after which 750 guests are attending the reception.

The last time the heir to the throne walked down the aisle - 24 years ago - more than 750 million television viewers worldwide saw him marry Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral.

While the St George's Chapel service can now watched by the public on TV, just 30 people will witness the low key marriage ceremony in a small room in the Guildhall.

Princes William and Harry are expected to be among the selected guests at the Guildhall, along with members of the Parker Bowles family.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are not attending the civil ceremony, but will be at the blessing.

The Church of England service of prayer and dedication after a civil marriage contains prayers of penitence.

If these are included in the couple's blessing, the nation could see divorcees Charles and Camilla, who committed adultery together, confess their sins in a standard prayer.

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