Royal Roundup: Hitch a Bus Ride Through Kate Middleton’s Youth

BBC News reports that bus tours have begun of the sights of Kate Middleton‘s childhood in Bucklebury, Berkshire. Visitors can see her primary school, the church where she was baptized, and her family home in Chapel Row. (Those not inclined to take the bus can see the BBC slideshow or the BBC video.) Perhaps most important is the stop at The Old Boot Inn in Stanford Dingely, an “18th Century Free House,” that is said to be a favorite of her and William. As an indication of the high regard in which Kate holds the pub, its landlord, John Haley, has been invited to the wedding. “I’ve known Kate for 15 years,” Haley says.

In other royal-related news:

- Kate’s wedding dress designer may be something of a state secret, but the hat designer is not: Philip Treacy will be the milliner, according to The Daily Mail. Treacy is known for his flamboyant hats, and he had his first royal assignment when he designed Camilla’s wedding hat in 2005. A year later Kate wore a Treacy design to one of William’s parades at Sandhurst. Treacy has also designed chapeaus for Sarah Jessica Parker and Lady Gaga.

- As this column fearlessly predicted, there will be no wedding invite for Estibalis Chavez, the Mexican woman who staged a hunger strike in the hopes of securing an invitation. And, as widely expected, President Obama and Michelle Obama will have to watch the wedding on television. The Daily Mail has a decent rundown on who made the grade. Assorted royals invited include: the King of Jordan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Sultan of Oman, the King of Bahrain, the Sultan of Brunei, the King of Saudi Arabia, the Emperor of Japan, the King of Malaysia, the King of Tonga and the King of Thailand. Notable among the missing are French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni. To some, the biggest snub was to Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and the former wife of Prince Andrew, William’s uncle.

- Location, location, location. BBC News takes a look at the three places Kate has called or will call home and, among other things, real estate prices. In Kate’s hometown of Bucklebury, Berkshire (population 2,000), a three-bedroom house costs about £600,000 ($973,500). Kate’s house has five bedrooms. A local real estate agent says housing prices will not be affected by the royal connection. Next is Anglesey, an island off the coast of Wales, where the newlyweds will live, reportedly without servants. This is where William’s RAF unit is stationed. A three-bedroom home there is about £300,000 ($486,800), and a local real estate agent says housing prices could rise as much as 10 percent because of the island’s famous inhabitants. The University of St. Andrews, the backdrop for the early stages of Kate and William’s romance, seems to have the typical problems of a college town. Three bedrooms there run about £240,000 ($389,400) but, as is always the case when there are hordes of students around, rental prices are “high and will remain high,” says Ian Morton, managing partner of Bradburne & Co. real estate agents.

- The designer of the now-famous blue wrap dress Kate wore for her engagement announcement was wonderfully tight-lipped during London’s fashion week. “I hope to dress her for the rest of her life.” said Issa designer Daniella Helayel, according to The Mirror. Asked what she expected Kate to wear on her wedding day, Helayel replied, “She knows what suits her.”

- Maybe there are some other titles lying around. The Daily Mail reports that the Queen is likely to bestow a duke title on William before his marriage. One title available is the Duke of Clarence. No one has held the title since speculation began in the early 1960s that the last Duke of Clarence, Prince Albert Victor, Queen Victoria‘s grandson, was also Jack the Ripper. Batting it all away, a palace spokesman says, “‘We can’t help with historical matters.”