The Royal Guest List: Who’s In and Who’s Out

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Royal weddings tend to feature some head-scratching guest lists.

The 1999 wedding of Elizabeth II's youngest son, Edward, to Sophie Rhys-Jones saw British comedians John Cleese and Billy Connolly rubbing shoulders with American celebs like John Travolta and Harry Connick, Jr.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's impending nuptials also features a just-as-intriguing "Not" list.

But first, the people who will be watching a "commoner" become a princess in Westminster Abbey on April 29th are a varied group indeed: Headlining the celebrity guests are the now L.A.-based British power couple David and Victoria Beckham, who became close with the royal couple during England's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup. David, you see, is president of the English Football Association and worked very closely with Prince William during the campaign. It's also rumored that fashion designer Victoria is sending a collection of dresses to Kate as a gift.

Joining them is "Sherlock Holmes" director Guy Ritchie - getting invited, apparently, is one of the perks of being the bride-to-be's sixth cousin. A recent study of the Middleton bloodline linked Kate with Guy, and also with American talk show host Ellen DeGeneres (she and Kate are 14th cousins). However, DeGeneres has not been invited to the wedding.

With the exception of the Beckhams, the most intense guest list attention was focused on Elton John.  The "is he?/isn't he?" drama played out for a few weeks - tabloids insisting he was going, John refuting them - until finally the "Candle in the Wind" singer admitted he was simply "trying to be discreet" and that, yes, he and partner David Furnish would be there.

The rest of the celebrity list is rounded out by some serious eyebrow-raisers: Comedian Rowan Atkinson (yes, Mr. Bean), rapper Kanye West, and former Bond girl and "Absolutely Fabulous" star Joanna Lumley. Prince Charles is known to be a big fan of Atkinson, which may explain his invitation, but Lumley's inclusion is especially odd seeing as she recently ripped into Kate's style and suggested the soon-to-be princess seek the help of "a fleet of stylists." And as for Kanye? His direct connection to the royal family is murky, but who doesn't half-hope he runs up the aisle in Westminster Abbey: "Archbishop, Imma let you finish, but Princess Diana had one of the best royal weddings of all time!" 

One thing that is clear when scanning the guest list: Will and Kate are very comfortable around their exes. No less than six former boyfriends and girlfriends will be filing into Westminster Abbey on the 29th including two - the surname-laden lovelies Davina Duckworth-Chad and Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe - who at one time seemed to be groomed for potential princess-hood.

Others on the guest list include the Sultan of Brunei, the King of Jordan, and a man named Basil Charles. Who is Mr. Charles? He's the owner of a beachfront speakeasy called "Basil's Bar" on the island of Mustique, a favorite of Will and Kate's whenever they happen to be visiting the Caribbean island. The inclusion of such "Mustique friends" has led to rumors that the royal couple will be heading there for their honeymoon.

But as we suggested earlier, this year it's really all about the snubs. Maybe it's the Internet's endless, 24-hour appetite for gossip, but the public seems to be quite aware of who is not going to be there on the big day.

First and foremost is the perpetual trouble-magnet, the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson. The Royal auntie appears to have been deliberately singled out by Queen Elizabeth II, especially seeing as Fergie's daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, received invitations. Many believe the Queen sees Fergie as a distraction that is not needed on the grand occasion.

Tongues were also wagging about the royal family's failure to send an invitation to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The official explanation was that, because William is not yet heir to the throne, his wedding is not classified as a "state occasion," which would require inviting heads of state. Still, it seems to most that this is snub-by-technicality, especially since Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, the crown prince  of Abu Dhabi, and the King of Bahrain all received invitations (although Bahrain's King Hamad declined to attend given the current state of unrest in his country).  But at least the Obamas are not alone - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni are still checking their mailbox, too.

Also not in attendance, some of Britain's wealthiest celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney, J.K. Rowling, and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne.

Perhaps they can head down to Basil's Bar and have a cold one while watching the event on TV. 

Selected Reading: The Daily Mail, Globe and Mail, Boston Herald

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