PRINCE William and Kate Middleton will pay a touching tribute to Princess Diana today – when their wedding service features a hymn played at her funeral.
The couple chose Diana’s last funeral hymn in 1997 to be the first sung at Westminster Abbey by their 1,900 guests.
Two billion people around the world will see how William’s late mother stayed at the forefront of her and Kate’s thoughts as they planned their special day.
The exciting Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer was also chosen by William and his brother Harry in the Chapelle des Gardes on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana in a car accident in Paris.
Friends and family will join the royal couple in singing the moving and inspiring lyrics to the Welsh tune just before they say their vows to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
And in another tribute, bride Kate will make her three-and-a-half-minute walk down the aisle to the dramatic sound of Sir Hubert Parry’s hymn I was Glad, which was played at Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981.
William has told close friends and the royal family that he is sure his mother will be there in spirit today, wishing him and Kate well.
Along with his brother Harry, he has publicly vowed never to forget her.
A palace source said: “There is no doubt that when he stands at the altar with his wife, William will think of the mother who had a huge influence on him. Diana would now be 49 and he is deeply disappointed that she wasn’t there to see him get married or that she had never met Kate.
“But William is determined not to dwell on this because he knows it’s Kate’s big day and nothing must ruin it.”
The last time William was at the abbey for an official ceremony was after being part of the slow and painful procession behind the coffin of his mother, only 15 years old.
Along with Harry, Prince Charles’ father, Prince Philip’s grandfather and Diana’s brother Charles Spencer, he walked with his head bowed as thousands of mourners watched in silence.
But today, the crowds lining the streets will cheer wildly as William prepares to marry Kate.
Singer Sir Elton John, whose song Goodbye England’s Rose – a revamp of his hit Candle in the Wind – was the most moving moment at Diana’s funeral, is one of the few distinguished guests at the wedding.
And he said, âI can’t imagine at this young age having to walk in public, following your mother’s coffin.
âAnd the next time we go to the Abbey, it’s to see him walking down the aisle with a beautiful woman, the love of his life. I think this is the happiest outcome and I’m sure Diana would be very, very happy about it.
William said he gifted Kate Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring as a way to “keep her close to everything.” And the Mirror recounted last week how he took his fiancee on a poignant visit to his mother’s grave on the Oval Island of the Spencer’s family ancestral estate in Althorp, Northamptonshire.
In their choice of wedding music, Wills and Kate also selected an anthem and three songs in recognition of the support they received from Prince Charles and Camilla.
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, by Charles Wesley, was performed during the blessing of Charles and Camilla at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in 2005. Three of the seven orchestral pieces performed by the London Chamber Orchestra as guests take place are also of Charles and the marriage of Camille.
A spokesperson for St James’s Palace said: “It’s a personal touch for the couple – a recognition from William’s father and the Duchess of Cornwall.”
Kate has spent hours listening to music on her iPod and also sought advice from Prince Charles. His hand can be seen in the inclusion of the Imperial Crown of William Walton, which was performed during the coronation of George VI – consort of his late beloved grandmother, the Queen Mother. It will be played as the couple leave the abbey as husband and wife.
There is also a strong nod to Wales in the couple’s final musical decisions.
Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer – from the Welsh melody by John Hughes with lyrics by William Williams – is better known today as the Welsh rugby anthem Bread of Heaven. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling is set to the Welsh tune Blaenwern. In honor of the North Wales island where they settled, William and Kate also chose a work by modern composer Paul Mealor, who has a studio in Anglesey.
But their latest hymn is about as English as it gets – the moving and popular Jerusalem, a poem by William Blake set to music by Sir Hubert Parry and arranged by Edward Elgar.
A variation of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ traditional English folk song Greensleeves will also feature, and William and Kate have also commissioned new music to add a modern twist to the day.
The special Valiant and Brave Marching Band – after William’s RAF Search and Rescue No 22 Squadron motto – was composed by Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs, the Force’s principal musical director.
The 30-second celebration will be sounded by seven trumpeters and a drummer from the RAF Core Group as the bride and groom prepare for their procession to the Great West Gate after their wedding.
Kate’s brother, James, 23, will do the service’s only reading.
In what will certainly be a nerve-racking time in the spotlight, he will say to the audience and viewers, “Let the love be genuine.”
A hymn for Diana
Guide me, O great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this arid land;
I am weak, but you are powerful,
Hold me with your mighty hand;
Bread from heaven, bread from heaven
Feed me until I don’t want any more;
Feed me until I don’t want any more.
Now open the crystal fountain
From which springs the stream of healing;
May the fire and the cloudy pillar
Lead me my whole journey through:
Strong liberator, strong liberator;
Always be my strength and my shield;
Always be my strength and my shield.
When I walk on the banks of the Jordan,
Tell my anxious fears to allay;
The death of death, and the destruction of hell
Unload me safe and sound on the Canaan side:
Songs of praise, songs of praise,
I will always give you;
I will always give you.
By William Williams
Download the Daily Mirror’s âWills & Kate A Royal Love Storyâ mobile souvenir app for iPhone, iTouch, iPad or Nokia smartphone here