A Royal Engagement in June?

When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown traveled to Buckingham Palace Tuesday morning to ask Her Majesty's permission to dissolve parliament and call a general election for May 6, I wondered if another important date on the queen's calendar was on the conversational agenda.

A high-placed source in royal circles told me that two days in June had been mysteriously blocked out on the palace diaries -- June 3 and 4. They suggest this is a likely date for the engagement announcement at last of the 27-year-old Prince William and his patient squeeze, 28-year-old Kate Middleton. If so, a wedding itself would probably follow in November, like the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who married at Westminster Abbey that cold, damp November day in 1947.

A June engagement and winter wedding make sense all around for the royal priorities. It would come after the turmoil of the election is over and a new (or the same) prime minister is installed in Downing Street. It would come neatly after William's Royal Air Force career transitions in January 2011, when he leaves the RAF helicopter school at Shawbury and becomes an operational pilot ready for a three-year search-and-rescue tour of duty. The queen and Prince Philip, moreover, are approaching two landmark moments: Philip will be 90 in June 2011, and the queen celebrates her diamond jubilee -- 60 years on the throne -- in February 2012. Their closeness to their grandson, especially Philip, makes them eager, I am told, to see William settled in matrimony.

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