Yacht party on eve of Britain's second royal wedding

EDINBURGH - Queen Elizabeth II's eldest granddaughter Zara Phillips and her fiance Mike Tindall threw a party on a yacht Friday on the eve of their wedding, with Prince William and wife Catherine among the guests.

Phillips and England rugby star Tindall hosted drinks on the Royal Yacht Britannia after a wedding rehearsal for Saturday's service in Edinburgh, which they ended with a brief kiss outside the church to the delight of well-wishers.

Among guests arriving at the party was Catherine, wearing a mid-length green dress, who headed up the red-carpeted steps followed by husband William, second in line to the throne, wearing a blue suit and red tie.

They are attending the wedding just three months after their own marriage on April 29, which drew worldwide attention.

Prince Harry, William's younger brother, was last to arrive at the yacht, bouncing up the steps two at a time and entering the party to a huge cheer.

Phillips, wearing a white one-shoulder dress with a blue print design, and Tindall mingled with guests on the outside decking area of the ship during the two-hour party, as a live band played and waiters served champagne and canapes.

The older generation of Britain's royal family was absent, with no sign of the queen, her husband Prince Philip or William's father Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

The yacht, permanently moored in Edinburgh's port of Leith, served the royal family for 44 years, carrying them on 968 official voyages all around the world before it was decommissioned in 1997.

Phillips' parents, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, honeymooned on the ship, cruising the Caribbean in 1973.

The queen adored the yacht and wept in public for the first time when it was retired.

Before the party, former eventing world champion Phillips and rugby World Cup winner Tindall arrived at Edinburgh's 17th century Canongate Kirk in a chauffeur-driven Jaguar for one last run-through of the service.

The couple, both dressed in jeans, spent about 50 minutes inside, along with the Reverend Neil Gardner, who will conduct the ceremony, and Tindall's best man Iain Balshaw, his former Bath and England colleague.

At William and Catherine's wedding, more than a million people lined the streets of London and an estimated two billion more watched on television.

Phillips' wedding, a much more intimate affair, is not being televised but filming equipment was seen being moved into the church.

Canongate Kirk holds up to 400 people and is about 400 metres away from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the monarch's official residence in Scotland, where the reception will be held.

The last royal wedding in Scotland was that of Anne and her second husband Timothy Laurence.

They married in 1992 at Crathie Kirk near Balmoral, the queen's private estate in Scotland.