The Vatican will witness an historic moment in relations between the Catholic Church and the British Monarchy on Saturday, when Lord Nicholas Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, is married at a church situated in the papal gardens behind St Peter's Basilica. Lord Windsor, the least known member of the Royal Family will marry British-born Croatian noble, Donna Paola Doimi de Frankopan, in the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini. Bishop Alan Hopes, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster, will conduct the ceremony. Lord Windsor, who godparents are The Prince of Wales and the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Coggan, will become the first ever member of the Royal Family to marry at the Vatican. He will also be the first ever member of the Royal Family to marry openly and legally within the rites of the Roman Catholic faith since the Reformation. A recent meeting of the Privy Council confirmed the Sovereign, s approval of the wedding as is required by law. Lord Windsor converted to Catholicism in 2001 and by doing so automatically lost his rights of succession to the throne because of the notorious 1701 Act of Settlement that bars Catholics from becoming monarch. The little known and publicity shy Lord Nicholas has since his conversion, been very active in Church affairs. He privately joined tens of thousands who queued for hours to file past the body at the lying in state of Pope John Paul II in April 2005. He and his Cambridge educated wife, Paola attend Mass regularly at Westminster Cathedral and Brompton Oratory. In 1994, his mother, the Duchess of Kent, became the most senior member of the Royal Family to convert to Catholicism. Lord Nicholas's uncle's wife, Princess Michael of Kent, and his sister in law, the Countess of St Andrews, whilst Catholic from birth, both conducted civil marriages. His father, The Duke of Kent, who is the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons of England, is expected to attend the Vatican ceremony. The Duke, who is known to be very close to his son, also and unusually issued an official engagement photograph taken by him at Kensington Palace. Spokesman for the couple, Mr Anthony Bailey said: "The wedding will be a small and strictly private family affair. It is expected that only immediate family members will attend. Lord Nicholas's godfather, The Prince of Wales, will not be attending as His Royal Highness will be returning from an Official Visit to Pakistan at the time which was arranged many months ago. Lord Nicholas and his bride will however be organising a private party to celebrate their marriage in London sometime in the New Year for other members of the Royal Family and close friends who will be unable to travel or have other commitments at this time."
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