THE Prince of Wales's wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles was postponed yesterday because it clashed with the Pope's funeral - further adding to the chaos surrounding the royal event.

The move came after the Prime Minister had postponed the expected announcement of a General Election from yesterday until today, out of respect for Pope John Paul II, who died on Saturday.

Instead of marrying his fiancee in Windsor's Guildhall on Friday, Charles will travel to Rome to pay his respects alongside world leaders at the pontiff's burial.

The heir to the throne decided to delay the wedding until Saturday in order to represent the Queen at the service.

Three other couples are holding their weddings at the town hall on the same day, but aides said there would be no disruption to their celebrations.

Paddy Harverson, Clarence House's communications secretary, said the prince wanted to go to the funeral.

"He had a lot of respect for the Pope," he said. "He feels this is absolutely the right thing to do. Mrs Parker Bowles agrees entirely.

"The wedding is still going to be a good day, but it has just been pushed back 24 hours.

"Hopefully the majority of guests that were going on Friday will be there on Saturday."

Camilla will not be accompanying Charles to Rome.

The couple yesterday attended the sombre Vespers for the Dead service in Westminster Cathedral, in honour of Pope John Paul II.

Charles made no comment as he arrived with Camilla.

Mrs Parker Bowles took her seat in the cathedral next to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

As Charles sat, he knelt forward to pray, bringing his hands to his head.

Charles's quest to marry Camilla has been dogged with setbacks since their engagement was announced in February.

The Queen's decision to stay away from the civil ceremony, the row over whether Mrs Parker Bowles would ever be known as queen, and the change in venues from Windsor Castle to the local town hall have featured in the long list of problems the prince has faced.

Now royal staff will be hurrying to notify the 750 guests attending the blessing afterwards, in Castle's St George's Chapel, of the change in plan.

Charles cut short his annual skiing trip to Klosters and flew back a day early to attend the memorial service for the Pope.

Reunited with Camilla at Clarence House, he called a meeting with aides and the pair took the decision to move their wedding day.

The event placed Mr Blair, whose wife Cherie is Catholic, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was due to be perform the blessing at Windsor on Friday, in a difficult position.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "I think Clarence House were very well aware of the significance of the Pope's funeral and therefore that was part of their decision-making process."

He added: "The decision was one for them and they alone to reach. The Prime Minister is now very glad he is able to go to both events."

It is thought the 20-minute civil ceremony will take place on Saturday morning ahead of the other weddings, and prior to the start of the John's Smith Grand National at Aintree, where a couple of the runners have royal names.

Grace Beesley, 33, who is preparing to marry 34-year-old Fraser Moores at the Guildhall at 2pm - the first of the other three couples on the day - said she was delighted.

Miss Beesley, from Windsor, said: "It will just be another dimension to the day."

Memorabilia produced for the big day was being scrapped last night and reissued with the correct date, although some royal fans were keen to get the souvenirs with Friday's date in case they become collectors' items.

Buckingham Palace said diaries had been rescheduled to cope with the alteration.