Royal wedding gamblers size up odds

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Critics gave her the cruel nickname “Waity Katie”, accusing her of hanging on for years for a wedding proposal instead of getting a proper job.

But the waiting will soon be over for Kate Middleton, and thousands of gamblers will have a particularly keen interest in how long she keeps Prince William standing nervously at the altar.

To mark the Royal wedding, bookmaker William Hill is to give away £50,000-worth of free bets on the length of time Kate will make her groom wait on Friday.

The company will grant 20 free £1 bets in each of its 2,300 shops, offering odds of 6-1 that William will be left standing alone for 12 minutes or more.

Punters can also get prices on the Duke of Edinburgh taking a nap during the ceremony (8-1), Prince Harry forgetting the ring (26-1) and Sir Elton John singing at the reception (12-1).

The bookmaker is offering odds of 5-4 that the couple will have a baby next year and 8-1 that they will break up before their 10th wedding anniversary.

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: “Interest in the Royal wedding betting has been nothing short of incredible.

“We have already taken bets from customers in 86 different countries.” Other canny marketing ploys planned to mark the big day include rival bookmaker Betfair’s commissioning of wedding-themed jockey silks for Friday’s meeting at Doncaster Racecourse.

The one-off racing colours, inspired by a bridal gown and military uniform, will be modelled before the company’s sponsored race, titled the Will They Marry furlong handicap stakes.

A sticker album has been produced to celebrate the wedding, and four Lego enthusiasts have spent eight weeks building a large replica model of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Featuring 190,000 bricks and 400 figures, the Lego display will be unveiled at a convention in Manchester on Thursday before touring the UK, Denmark and Holland.

Clarence House confirmed yesterday that the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, would not be attending Friday’s ceremony.

The Gulf state has violently suppressed pro-democracy protests in recent months and martial law has been declared.

The Bahrain royal family will not be sending a representative, a Clarence House spokesman said.

Neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown have been invited to the wedding. Sir John Major will attend, but Baroness Thatcher declined owing to poor health.