Royal Wedding Dress Rehearsal: Cadets, Carriages and Calvary Stage Pre-Dawn Walk-Through

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Darren Staples / Reuters

We're getting close: Mounted soldiers escort a carriage down The Mall during a Royal wedding rehearsal in London on April 27, 2011

Two Rolls-Royces from Queen Elizabeth’s fleet cruised past Westminster Abbey at 4.50am this morning. All the Queen’s horses and all the Queen’s men followed.

Keen to show that British pomp and ceremony remains the standard, commanders from the air force, army and navy barked orders at their men—timing their movements down to the second—in what was a full-scale run-through of the royal procession. Thousands of servicemen—and women—lined the route between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. They stood exactly 16 feet apart. “On the day, you’ll have your heels on the white line [a road marking],” one Royal Air Force officer said to the troops, reminding them to take an extra step towards the crowd.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of Kate and Wills’ courtship)

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The servicemen wore full military uniform, though some units may change their outfits for the big day. The calvary, for instance, will trade in the olive green jackets they sported this morning for ceremonial red jackets with metallic embellishments. Given the early hour, marching bands did not play their instruments, so horse hooves became the soundtrack of the morning.

Elsewhere, Kate Middleton left her family’s West Berkshire home wearing a cream suit. It’s unlikely she’ll return there until she’s a princess. Outside of the Goring Hotel, where she will spend her final night as a commoner, police installed barriers to prevent a car bomb attack. And in Parliament, David Cameron delivered a message from the country’s politicians. “I’m sure the whole House will want to join me in sending our best wishes to Prince William and Catherine Middleton ahead of their wedding this Friday and to wish them a long and happy life together.”

Compared to surviving the wedding of the century, a lifetime of marriage may not seem so daunting a challenge. (via BBC)

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of ten of the most colorful royal wedding souvenirs)

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s special coverage of the royal wedding)

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