updated 21 Oct 2012, 12:49
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Sun, Oct 21, 2012
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Crowned heads of Europe due at Luxembourg royal wedding

LUXEMBOURG - It won't be as big as "Will and Kate" yet the cream of Europe's royals head to tiny Luxembourg this week for a two-day wedding between Prince Guillaume, heir to the throne, and a Belgian countess.

From Friday through Saturday, the only Grand Duchy in the world will turn up the lights for the prince - Europe's 8th most attractive, according to - and Countess Stephanie de Lannoy, a member of one of Belgium's oldest aristocratic families.

"Our wedding is an international event, meaning it's a good excuse to show Luxembourg's festive side," said 30-year-old Guillaume, whose wet and windswept grand duchy best known as a financial hub won its independence in 1839.

It's also "a totally normal marriage between Guillaume and I," said his blonde 28-year-old bride-to-be.

On Friday, the royal couple do the normal thing, hob-nobbing with members of youth movements before heading for Luxembourg City hall for a civil ceremony held without the paparazzi in tow.

"The atmosphere at our wedding will be different to those held in Monaco or London," said Prince Guillaume, whose half a million people are to be treated on Saturday to the rare sight of a parade on foot by visiting foreign royalty.

The gala dinner in the hilltop city Friday night, along with Saturday's religious ceremony at Notre Dame cathedral, is drawing most of Europe's royalty.

From close neighbours will be Belgian's Albert II and Queen Paola along with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the heir to the Dutch throne, Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Maxima.

Also flying in are Norway's King Harald V and Queen Sonja, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein and his princess, Denmark's Queen Margrethe with Prince Consort Henrik, Queen Silvia of Sweden and even Princess Lalla Salma, wife of Morocco's Mohammed VI.

The English throne will be represented by Queen Elizabeth's third son, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, while Japan is sending Crown Prince Naruhito.

A host of other crown princes and princesses will also be in attendance, including Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden, Princess Caroline of Hanover and the prince and princesses of Asturias and of Norway.

To mark Luxembourg's biggest royal event in decades, the palace is staging free concerts, street shows and a giant fireworks display.

Recognising that Europe is stuck firmly on the path of economic austerity, the budget has been kept well below other recent royal nuptials to 350,000 euros (S$558,000) for the state and 317,000 euros for the city of Luxembourg.

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