Inside Westminster Abbey

LONDON - Next Friday, Kate and William will be married inside one of the world's most famous churches.

Westminster Abbey - officially the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster - has been at the heart of British history and the monarchy for more than a thousand years.

"It's been the coronation church since Christmas day 1066 when William the Conqueror was crowned here," said the Very Rev. Dr. John Hall, the dean of Westminster Abbey.

Special Section: The Royal Wedding

CBS News Early Show anchor Eric Hill reports the present church is where the Queen occasionally worships, and where she was crowned nearly 60 years ago like 37 of her predecessors.

The monarchs are crowned in the Coronation Chair made famous in the recent movie "The King's Speech." That King - George the Sixth - was married at the Abbey. As was his daughter who became Queen Elizabeth.

Pictures: Westminster Abbey

The last royal wedding here took place 25 years ago when Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson. A very young Prince William was a page then, and apparently not very interested in the event.

Friday morning is sure to be different. "I am delighted they are marrying here," Hall said. "They wanted to come here because it is a place of staggering beauty and also remarkable intimacy and I think that is true."

For Prince William, the Abbey is steeped in memories. It was the setting for his mother Princess Diana's funeral in 1997.

"People have thought 'isn't it rather sad and strange to be marrying in the place where your mother's funeral was?''" Hall said. "The answer is surely in parish churches normally, that we celebrate all the happy and sad events of our lives."

The church will be filled with 1,600 guests. The service will be traditional, following the Church of England - and the vows will be exchanged in the intimate setting of the high altar.

"When you're up at the high altar I think you can get the sense that it's a personal moment and that's the most important thing for them," Hall said. "And I hope we can all get a sense of delight at the commitment they're making. And in the end they're asking God to bless the commitment they're making."

William and Kate will be doing this in a setting that has seen a millennium of ritual and tradition.

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