Dornoch gives warm pre-nuptial welcome to Madonna and child


Bathed in floodlight, the tiny Scottish town of Dornoch gave a warm welcome to Madonna and child last night.

The welcome was the only warm aspect of the build-up to the christening of Rocco Ritchie, the four-month-old baby of the singing megastar and her husband-to-be, film-maker Guy Ritchie.

Hundreds of well-wrapped fans shivered from lunchtime behind barriers erected by a strong police contingent at the front of 13th-century Dornoch Cathedral where the ceremony took place. As a heavy mist rolled in, the floodlights were turned on and paparazzi from across the world teetered on step-ladders and climbed trees.

"McDonna", as the locals in this pretty Highland town have taken to calling her, didn't disappoint. First a slew of four-wheel-drive vehicles deposited an immaculate collection of guests, including actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting and his wife, Trudie, (godparents to baby Rocco), designer Stella McCartney and parents of the proud couple, on the cathedral steps.

Then at exactly 6.30 p.m. Madonna stepped out of a car to a roar from the crowd who earlier had been warbling a particularly dodgy rendition of American Pie. Ritchie carried baby Rocco.

Dornoch has gone Madonna mad this week in preparation for the impending nuptials in the exclusive hideaway of the stars, Skibo Castle, four miles away. "The wedding of the century" is to take place this evening in the castle's chapel, and Gwyneth Paltrow and Donatella Versace are rumoured to be the singer's maids of honour.

But slipping away from the cathedral last night, where beefy security men hovered around the graveyard, was Father Benedict Seed, the local Catholic priest who had attended the christening service. "It was a very sincere, traditional and quiet ceremony," he said, but he wouldn't be drawn on trivia such as the colour of the flowers or a review of Sting's version of Ave Maria.

"What a carry-on for one woman," noted one local as a pipe band marched through the town and a party atmosphere prevailed.