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Crowds Gather for Britain's Royal Wedding; Syrian Diplomat Pulled Off Guest List

Prince Williams' fiancee Kate Middleton leaves Westminster Abbey with her mother Carole and Prince Harry, en route to Clarence House in London, April 28, 2011

Festive crowds began gathering in London Thursday, some under small tents sporting Union Jack flags, in anticipation of the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton.

On Friday, the two are to celebrate their vows in Westminster Abbey, in the biggest royal wedding gala that Britain has seen since the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana in 1981.

The couple said they have been "incredibly moved" by the outpouring of affection toward them since their engagement last November, and have thanked the public for joining in the celebration of what they hope will be one of the happiest days of their lives.

People from all over the world have arrived to try and catch a glimpse of the royals and celebrities, filling the streets with excitement, hats, banners and balloons.

More than half a million people are expected to fill the streets of London on Friday to cheer the new royal couple, and another estimated two billion people around the world will watch the wedding on the Internet or other media.

Some 5,000 police officers have been tasked with keeping a close watch over the crowds.

An exclusive list of 1,900 people were invited to attend the ceremony at the abbey, but that number was cut back when it was made clear that at least two guests were no longer welcome.

Britain's Foreign Office on Thursday withdrew the invitation to the Syrian Ambassador, citing the recent attacks against civilians by Syrian security forces. Earlier this week, Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman al Khalifa decided not to attend because of the outcry over his country's harsh response to demonstrations in his country.

A souvenir wedding program released Thursday, revealed that Middleton will not promise to "obey" Prince William in their vows but instead will recite " love, comfort, honor, and keep him".

Still secret are the details of Middleton's wedding dress.

Thousands of street parties have been organized around Britain for the day.

Britain's weather office has predicted a mix of rain and sun for the day. Prince William and his bride plan to use the Glass Coach to travel from abbey back to Buckingham Palace if the weather is rainy. If the skies are clear, they will ride in an open air carriage.

The last time Britain felt such excitement was during the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. But there are echoes of the late Princess - who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 - in Friday's celebrations: rock star Elton John, who sang at Princess Diana's funeral will be present, and the engagement ring William gave Middleton was his mother's sapphire and diamond engagement ring.

The official wedding program

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.