His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton are still engaged to be married(update)
The Prince of Wales continues to be delighted by the engagement of his eldest son to the daughter of some Home Counties millionaires.
But look, let's get something straight. Royal weddings are usually extravagant lavish affairs where a bunch of privileged aristocrats splash their cash around. Gold coaches, sparkly tiaras, the full works. Not this time. Because the country simply can't afford it.
This will be an austerity wedding. We recognise that a large proportion of the British population are really up against it, and even more of them will be on the scrapheap by the time of Willie's nuptials next summer. It would therefore be wholeheartedly insensitive of us to wave our bling around as usual. So rest assured, this time we won't. Even the engagement ring is recycled, just to show we're serious.
Normally a royal wedding would take place at either Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral. But they both charge a fortune in fees, so the Prime Minister's insisted we go somewhere cheaper. Somewhere a bit smaller too, so that your TV screens aren't filled with row upon row of the landed gentry in morning dress. A rigorous shortlist has been drawn up - narrowed down so far to the Methodist Chapel in Neasden, the Lord Redeemer Evangelical Temple in Peckham or a Scout Hall in Putney. It's for the best.
Please note that no date for the wedding has yet been chosen. Clarence House is still in negotiations with Sky Sports for exclusive wedding rights, and they don't want to clash with a rescheduled Chelsea at home. But one thing we do know - the ceremony will be held on a Saturday. Charles & Di may have got married midweek, but the PM is very clear that Britain's struggling economy can't afford an extra bank holiday. We're all in this together, he said, so let's knuckle down and have no unnecessary time off.
There's been much speculation in the media about Kate's wedding dress. Our original plans were to commission a bespoke mille-feuille creation from one of Mayfair's top designers. But we recognise how bad that might look when the rest of the country is buying outfits from charity shops, so instead we've linked up with Blue Peter who are going to run a competition. Some precocious eight year-old will probably triumph, and then we'll ask a Women's Institute from Norfolk to knock up the winning dress design using only recycled materials.
There'll be a choir, obviously, but not the usual angelic cherubs in starched ruffs. Instead we've negotiated with Simon Cowell and he's going to manufacture a supergroup to sing lazy ballads during the signing of the register. Auditions will begin in the New Year, after which there'll be a weekly ITV show in which potential choristers are rejected one by one until only the most download-friendly remain. Profits from telephone voting are expected to be high enough to pay for the entire wedding without any additional public subsidy.
The Coalition Government are very keen that Wills and Kate's be seen as the first "Big Society" wedding. The procession will pass along streets swept by students on day release from debtors prison. The guard of honour will be provided by redundant squaddies who used to work on aircraft carriers. The royal coach will be pulled by the long-term unemployed, bussed down overnight from Cumbernauld. Even the Queen's hat will be a repeat. By the time the ring's been slipped onto Princess Kate's finger, you'll believe the royals are belt-tightening just as much as the rest of the country.
But not for long. Following the marriage, the guests will head off for a slap-up six-course banquet out of sight of the world's media. Then it's honeymoon time for the happy couple on a luxury yacht in the Caribbean, before returning home to a privileged life of polo, jewellery and servants. That's the aristocratic tradition, that's how it's always been, and that's how it always will be.
People of Britain, be of good cheer. The upcoming Royal Wedding is a splash of colour on the hard road we all have to travel. Start planning your street parties, sewing your bunting and buying your commemorative teatowels today. And remember, however bad it gets for you next year, for us the fairytale continues.