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Police issue royal wedding appeal

Detectives leading the major royal wedding security operation have appealed for the public to be the "eyes and ears" of the 5,000 officers tasked with maintaining law and order on the big day.

Scotland Yard's appeal to the hundreds of thousands of people expected in central London to celebrate Prince William and Kate Middleton's nuptials came as officers revealed another protest group with Middle Eastern links has warned it plans disruptions at the royal wedding.

The Metropolitan Police is already negotiating with extremist campaign groups Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) and the English Defence League over proposed protests.

Preparations for the big day continue and Westminster Abbey, the venue for the wedding ceremony, has now closed its doors to the public so work can begin in earnest.

A full music rehearsal will take place at the Abbey on Wednesday, a dress rehearsal for clergy and broadcasters on Thursday and at some stage the prince and his fiancee will hold their own preparations with senior clergy at the abbey.

Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens, who is leading the major security operation, made the appeal to the public.

"We want them to be our eyes and ears," she said, adding: "If you see anything or anyone in the crowd that is acting suspiciously, please bring it to the earliest attention of our officers... they are there to help you. We are very clear that we want this to be a safe, secure and happy event, and we intend to act robustly, quickly and firmly if anyone engages in any criminal activity."

All the groups applying to protest have been told by officers that they are likely to be refused permission unless they agree to postpone demonstrations until later in the day.

MAC is understood to have refused the request and failed to turn up at a scheduled meeting with police chiefs last week, Ms Owens said. As a result, MAC does not have an authorised demonstration on the day, she added.

A banner on the MAC website warns princes William and Harry to "watch their backs".

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