The bride-to-be and her prince leave Madrid's Almudena Cathedral after the rehearsal. On Saturday Letizia will become the Princess of Asturias
Photo: PA
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Queen Sofia chaperones her grandchildren outside the cathedral. The youngsters were also taking part in Thursday's rehearsal
Photo: AFP

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An inside look at the Spanish royal nuptials

20 MAY 2004

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The city of Madrid is heating up in more ways than one, as bright sunshine meets the dignitaries and royals from all over Europe who are jetting in for Crown Prince Felipe's wedding to former TV news presenter Letizia Ortiz.

Felipe and his bride-to-be have meanwhile been taking part in rehearsals to make sure everything goes smoothly when Saturday comes. Queen Sofia and her grandchildren, who will have the job of carrying Letizia's train, were also photographed at the city's spectacular Almudena Cathedral.

On the day itself bagpipers from the northern region of Asturias will play outside the historic building. Their presence is made all the more appropriate by the fact that Letizia herself hails from the region and is about to take on the title Princess of Asturias.

But the attention of fashionistas will be firmly fixed on the 32-year-old's gown, which has been created by veteran Spanish designer Manuel Pertegaz. Details of the dress remain a closely guarded secret but Manuel, who has previously clothed Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy, let slip in a radio interview that it will be ivory in colour.

Some 1,600 VIP guests are expected to attend the ceremony, along with leading royals from around the world. The huge crowds of well-wishers who are expected to line the streets outside will have to watch from a distance, because a huge security operation has also swung into operation. Airspace over Madrid will be closed for the day while over 17,000 police officers patrol the city's streets.

letizia ortiz, prince felipe, queen sofia

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