A tug on Norfolk’s harp strings before William and Kate’s Royal Wedding

Amid all the grandeur of the big day, it may seem one of the more trivial details as the world watches William and Kate tie the knot.

But as guests file into Westminster Abbey or the reception to the sound of a harp, a group of Norfolk craftsmen and women will have an extra reason to smile.

For the strings of instruments which will be played during the ceremony in the abbey and at Buckingham Palace afterwards were made in King's Lynn.

Down a track off Dodman's Bridge, behind the College of West Anglia, a company called Bow Brand have been making natural gut strings for more than 100 years.

Gut - a natural by-product of the beef industry - is reckoned to have a more pleasing, mellow sound than synthetic alternatives.

And with nothing being left to chance before the big day, both the harp being played by Claire Jones - the Royal Harpist - and the instrument being played at the abbey were fitted with new sets of 47 strings.

Bow Brand director Carolyn Clarke said the firm was set up in Highgate because the site was close to an abbatoir, where its raw materials orginally came from.

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'We've been here since 1902,' she said. 'We're probably the largest harp string maker in the world.

'Gut strings last years if kept in the right conditions, it's a brilliant product. We do break tests and it has a 120lbs breaking strain. It's a strong, strong material - like anything natural.'

Bow brand has had its ups and downs since Mrs Clarke joined in 1993 and the company decided to major on harp strings.

'We've had a fire here at the factory, we've had foot and mouth and BSE,' she said.

Production manager Rosina Russell and her 24-strong team run the raw material through wet and dry processes, to cure, stretch, polish and finally varnish the gut to turn it into strings.

Bow brand strings are used by Salvi - the Stradivarius of harp makers, who in 2006 made the Royal Harp to celebrate after Prince Charles reinstated the position of Royal Harpist.

Mrs Clarke took her entire team to Italy five years ago, to visit the Salvi factory and see harps being built.

'When you see the strings going on to them it means a lot,' she said.

On April 29, they will be straining to hear the notes of their strings cascade out across Westminster Abbey for the world to hear.

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