Prince Charles to Marry at Town Hall

Prince Charles (search) and Camilla Parker Bowles will not wed at Windsor Castle, but in the more prosaic surroundings of the local town hall.

Charles' Clarence House office said Thursday the April 8 civil ceremony would take place at the Guildhall in Windsor (search), west of London, rather than at the castle as announced last week.

A blessing led by Archbishop of Canterbury (search) Rowan Williams after the ceremony will still take place at the castle's St. George's Chapel, followed by a reception at the castle's state apartments.

Windsor's town hall, the Guildhall, was built in 1690. It is a sturdy building of brick and Portland stone, partly designed by Christopher Wren.

It is one of 29 approved venues for civil wedding ceremonies in the Windsor area. Local authorities charge 265 pounds ($500) for a weekday ceremony — plus 20 pounds extra if, like Charles and Camilla, a couple wishes to wed on a Friday.

Clarence House said the new venue would allow the public to see the couple arrive and leave, and would help to include the town in the day's events.

The change also gets around a quirk of British licensing law — if the royals had registered Windsor Castle as a wedding venue, they would have had to let other people marry there as well.

Clarence House also said Parker Bowles, 57, had chosen Robinson Valentine to design her wedding outfit and Philip Treacy to design her hat.

The pair will exchange wedding rings made from Welsh gold, in keeping with a royal tradition begun by the Queen Mother Elizabeth in 1923, Clarence House said.

The 56-year-old prince and his longtime love announced a week ago that they were to wed, after a 30-year on and off romance that endured through Charles' rocky marriage to Princess Diana. The couple divorced in 1996 and Diana died in a car crash a year later.

To salve concerns among traditional Anglicans, who frown on the remarriage of divorcees, the couple said they would have a civil ceremony rather than a church wedding.

Parker Bowles will take the title of Her Royal Highness Princess Consort, rather then Princess of Wales — Diana's title — and will not become queen when Charles accedes to the throne.

About 700 friends and family are expected to attend the service — a far cry from the 3,000 guests, and estimated million outdoor bystanders, who came to see Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981.

The modest scale of the upcoming wedding is highlighted in Parker Bowles' choice of designer. Robinson Valentine, a small London-based design company headed by Anna Valentine and Antonia Robinson, is a longtime favorite of Parker Bowles, and is credited with helping to transform her image from dowdy, outdoorsy aristocrat to classy royal consort.