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Slimmed down Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin to wed her 'forever friend'

03 JANUARY 2012 Congratulations are in order for the Queen of Soul: she’s getting married.

Aretha Franklin, 69, has announced her engagement to long-term companion William ‘Willie’ Wilkerson, whom she once described as her ‘forever friend’.

The music legend, who has been married twice before and has four children, revealed plans to tie the knot over the summer with the former fire fighter from Detroit.







“We’re looking at June or July for our date,” she said, before joking: “and no, I’m not pregnant, LOL!”.

The superstar wants to follow the ceremony, which is apparently to take place in Florida, with a reception on a private yacht.

As for the all-important dress, Aretha is considering top designers Vera Wang, Valentino and Donna Karan.

Her wedding will give the soul diva a perfect opportunity to showcase her new figure – she's thought to have lost up to six stone in the last year.

And she recently said she's feeling “fabulous” again following a mystery health problem in 2010.

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