Prince William and Kate Middleton married in London’s Westminster Abbey today as 1 million people lined the streets and an estimated 2 billion around the world watched on television.
Kate, dressed in a gown by Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton, and the prince, in red military uniform, made their vows after driving separately to the abbey through flag-waving, cheering crowds. After the ceremony, the newly married couple drove in an open state landau carriage to Buckingham Palace, where they appeared on the balcony and kissed.
“This is a joyful day; it’s good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations,” the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, told the 1,900-strong congregation in his address during the service. “This is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.”
Kate, who will now be known as Princess William of Wales, is the first woman from outside royalty or the aristocracy to marry so close to the throne for 350 years. When William becomes Britain’s monarch, she will be queen. Queen Elizabeth II, William’s grandmother, announced today that the couple will be given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Ivory and Lace
Kate’s floor-length ivory dress, which was a closely guarded secret in the run-up to the wedding, featured a lace applique bodice and skirt handmade by the Royal School of Needlework and lace flowers on ivory silk tulle in a design incorporating the rose of England, thistle of Scotland, daffodil of Wales and shamrock of Ireland.
Chartres read a prayer written by the couple for the service, which thanked God for their families and the love that they share and asked for support in helping others.
“In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life, and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy,” the prayer said. “Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer.”
The couple came out onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace at about 1:30 p.m. and were joined by other family members to watch a flypast by the Royal Air Force. The flag-waving crowd outside the royal residence, estimated by the Metropolitan Police at 500,000, chanted “Kiss, kiss kiss.” William appeared to say to Kate “Shall we?,” before they kissed briefly, to roars of approval.
It “didn’t last long enough,” said Hannah Stretfield, 27, a civil servant from London, who was watching on a giant TV screen in Trafalgar Square. “The kiss was very conservative.”
After lunch, the couple drove away from Buckingham Palace in an open-topped Aston Martin festooned with balloons and with a license plate that read JU5T WED. William was at the wheel and Kate in the passenger seat. Both waved to the crowds.
Today’s celebrations were the U.K.’s biggest royal event since the funeral in 1997 of William’s mother, Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris. Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, ended in divorce, as did the first marriages of his brother Andrew and sister Anne.
It’s a public holiday throughout Britain and police estimated that 1 million people lined the route. Thousands slept on the streets to get the best view of the procession. Those outside Buckingham Palace were rewarded last night when Prince William went out to speak with them.
“We do these things incredibly well,” Prime Minister David Cameron, who slept on the streets the night before the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, said in a Sky News television interview. “People around the world will be watching and seeing some of the best of Britain.”
William, 28, who as monarch will command Britain’s military, wore the uniform of a colonel of the Irish Guards regiment, his senior honorary appointment in the army. He is currently a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, based in north Wales, and could also have worn a naval uniform. His brother Prince Harry, who was best man and has fought in Afghanistan, wore the uniform of a captain of the Household Cavalry.
Those attending the wedding included more than 40 foreign royals such as Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Also in the abbey were members of both families, and friends and acquaintances of the couple, including soccer player David Beckham and his wife Victoria and Elton John, who sang at Diana’s funeral.
It was the 16th royal wedding at the 1,000-year-old abbey, and the service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, John Hall, and Chartres. The wedding ceremony was led by the senior cleric in the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
During the service, William gave Kate a gold wedding ring made by a family-owned London-based jeweler, Wartski, from a piece of Welsh gold presented to him by the queen after the engagement was announced last year. He will not wear a ring.
“It’s an amazing fairytale,” said Marielle Van Kempen, 42, from Leiden, the Netherlands, one of the spectators. “We have our own royal family but it’s smaller. This is so much bigger.”
The air-force flypast has become a tradition at royal weddings in the U.K. Today it was made up of three planes from World War II symbolizing the Battle of Britain -- a Spitfire, a Lancaster and a Hurricane -- alongside four modern jets -- two Tornados and two Typhoons.
Around 650 people attended a lunchtime canape reception at the palace. Scheduled for the evening was a 300-person reception at the palace for the couple’s close friends with dinner and dancing. Where the couple will travel on honeymoon is another secret.
“We always hear about the past, stories of kings,” said Marcelo Ros Castilho, 27, an IT project manager from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who camped out on The Mall with friends and family. “This will be part of our history, in 50, 100 years’ time, so it’ll be great to be able to tell my grandchildren I was here.”