In a matter of hours EDT Prince William will marry Kate Middleton at the historic Westminster Abbey.
According to the official website, the Abbey was founded in 960 A.D. by St. Dunstan, Bishop of London, when he brought the Benedictine monks from that city. The building broke ground Dec. 28, 1065 by St. William the Confessor (William the Conqueror), who was crowned there a year later of the newly-established Kingdom of England. From that date until January 16, 1540, the Abbey was strictly a monastery for the Order of St. Benedict in England, a Catholic order, until Henry VIII eventually dissolved the order and made the Abbey a cathedral for the Diocese of London, Church of England (well, you know the story why the Church of England became Protestant). Queen Mary brought the monks back for a while before Elizabeth I established the Abbey as personal property of the Royal Family in 1560, which it is today.
Recently, Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed disallusioned Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church who don't agree with the Low Church attitudes of women's ordination, divorce, gay marriage, etc., similar to the problems that exist in the Vatican II documents. Wherefore, Anglo-Catholics, or High Church Anglicans, can join the Catholic Church and keep their British medieval trappings, such as a Romanized version of the Book of Common Prayer, properly known as the Missale Anglicanum, or Anglican Missal, or English Missal. It is mostly based on the Tridentine Missal, except services are generally in Elizabethian English instead of Latin.
The sad part is that under a 1701 law, a Catholic or anyone married to a Catholic cannot take the throne. But that does not mean that this can change. It only takes Parliament. The 5 million British Catholics are probarly the most orthodox in the Anglosphere, with the UK never abolishing the Latin Mass entirely. This is why the Oxford Movement took place and Cardinal Newman was beautified last year. It is all about being faithful to the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC CHURCH, founded by Jesus Christ, for whom he appointed Peter as the first leader, who is known as the Pope.
The Holy Father's visit to Great Britian to meet with the Queen last fall could signal a future Church of England affiliation with the Vatican. That has yet to be seen, but there is keenly more interest in their patriotic medieval architectural designs and ceremonial, which I will witness on television pretty soon. Since the Church of England is the UK's taxpayer-funded religious organization, many people don't like Church being involved in state affairs. It is the civil religion of the UK, just like the civil religion in the US. It is just patriotism, with no regard towards the theology.
Now, if the Church of England decided to uphold the orthodox Catholic teachings, then they would be Roman Catholic, and Westminster Abbey would be a basilica or a UK national shrine, just like Walsingham [sic?] is a national shrine to both Catholics and Anglicans.
If for some reason there would be a merger, there would be several overlapping dioceses. Right now there are 2 archdioceses in London: Westminster (which was a restored see and built Westminster Cathedral in the neo-Byzantine style in 1903 to not confuse it with the Abbey which is a mile down the street), and Southwark (St. George's), which is the borough of London south of the Thames River. Albeit the Abbey is most associated with the Archbishop of Canterbury, his see is in Canterbury Cathedral, 45 miles east of London! The Anglican see of London is just a diocese, not an archdiocse (the norhern one being York).
In other words, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who is pro-tradition, released the Catholic version of the collect (to commemorate at tomorrow's Masses) "The Prayer for William & Catherine":
Heavenly Father, we ask your blessing upon his Royal Highness, Prince William and Catherine as they pledge their love for each other in marriage. May your love unite them through their lives. Grant them the strength to serve you, our country and the Commonwealth with integrity and faithfulness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Or the Latin version:
Pater coelestis, rogamus benedictionem Regia Celsitudinis et Catherinae Prince William obligare ut amoris mutui marito. Coniunge tuus eos uitam. Dona eis vim servire tibi et patriae Reipub probitate fides. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.