Yacht party on eve of Britain's second royal wedding

Queen Elizabeth II's eldest granddaughter Zara Phillips threw a party on a yacht on the eve of her wedding to Mike Tindall, with Prince William and his wife Catherine among the guests.

After Phillips and England rugby star Tindall had a final wedding rehearsal for the service in Edinburgh (which will take place overnight NZST), guests were invited to drinks on the Royal Yacht Britannia moored in the port of Leith in the Scottish capital.

Catherine, wearing a mid-length green dress, led the way up the red-carpeted steps followed by second-in-line to the throne William, wearing a blue suit and red tie, as a crowd gathered to catch a glimpse of some 200 guests arriving.

Prince Harry, William's younger brother, was last to arrive at the yacht, bouncing up the steps two at a time and entering the party to a huge cheer.

The older generation of Britain's royal family was mostly absent from the pre-wedding party, with no sign of the queen, her husband Prince Philip or William's father Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

The yacht, permanently moored in the port of Leith, served the royal family for 44 years, carrying them on 968 official voyages all around the world before it was decommissioned in 1997.

Phillips' parents, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, honeymooned on the ship, cruising the Caribbean in 1973.

The queen adored the yacht and wept in public for the first time when it was retired.

Before the party, former eventing world champion Phillips and Rugby World Cup winner Tindall arrived at Edinburgh's 17th century Canongate Kirk in a chauffeur-driven Jaguar for one last run-through of the service.

The couple, both dressed in jeans, were joined by her parents and her brother Peter Phillips.

The couple spent about 50 minutes inside, along with the Reverend Neil Gardner, who will conduct the ceremony, and Tindall's best man Iain Balshaw, his former Bath and England colleague.

The wedding comes almost exactly three months after Phillips' cousin Prince William tied the knot with Kate Middleton on April 29.

More than a million people lined the streets of London for that wedding and an estimated two billion more watched on television.

Phillips' wedding, a much more intimate affair, is not being televised but filming equipment was seen being moved into the church.

Canongate Kirk holds up to 400 people and is about 400 metres away from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the monarch's official residence in Scotland, where the reception will be held.

The last royal wedding in Scotland was that of Anne and her second husband Timothy Laurence.

They married in 1992 at Crathie Kirk near Balmoral, the queen's private estate in Scotland.

- AFP

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