Hundreds of members of the military took part in a pre-dawn rehearsal for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Wednesday, as Britain readies itself for the biggest royal event for 30 years.
Two billion people are expected to watch live on television and the Internet to see the eldest son of Princess Diana and his commoner bride tie the knot tomorrow (Friday) after a romance that began at university in Scotland eight years ago.
Up to 1,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel, wearing ceremonial uniform and around 160 of them on horseback, took part in a pre-dawn rehearsal on Wednesday, lining the procession route the newlyweds will take.
It will be followed by musical rehearsal involving military bands, the orchestra and the two choirs that will sing at Westminster Abbey during the ceremony, and a run-through for the broadcasters and clergy on Thursday.
Rain is set to fall tomorrow, but that is unlikely to dissuade hundreds of thousands of revellers from cramming into London, with the first die-hard royal fans camping out in front of the Abbey since Monday.
Around 1,900 guests including foreign royals, politicians and celebrities including Elton John, David and Victoria Beckham and Rowan Atkinson have accepted invitations to attend the exclusive ceremony.
British police have launched a massive security operation involving some 5,000 officers, including armed protection specialists, and warned that they will "robustly" deal with any protests during the wedding.
William, the 28-year-old second-in-line to the throne who works as a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, proposed last year to Kate, 29, the daughter of self-made millionaires, using Diana's engagement ring.
Some 650 guests have been invited to the reception at the palace, while the hottest ticket in town will be a dinner-dance hosted by Prince Charles for a lucky 300 or so people.
Thousands of street parties are planned, including in Middleton's home village of Bucklebury in southeast England, while the British government has declared a public holiday and pubs are allowed to stay open late.
In a sign of the couple's status as the first royals of the Facebook generation, the wedding will also be streamed live on YouTube while royal officials will post blog and Twitter updates.
As part of the security measures, key details about William and Kate's big day remain shrouded in mystery.
The wedding dress has prompted acres of media speculation, while there is no news on what titles the couple will take -- or whether the newlyweds will emulate Charles and Diana and kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.