Prince William and Kate Middleton declared married

Royal couple exchange vows before nearly 2,000 guests; thousands including stars, royalty, commoners fill Westminster Abbey.

By REUTERS
April 29, 2011 13:30
2 minute read.

Royals kiss 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton married at Westminster Abbey on Friday in a sumptuous show of British pageantry that attracted a huge world audience and breathed new life into the monarchy.

One million well-wishers watched military bands in black bearskin hats and household cavalrymen in shining breastplates escorting the beaming couple in a 1902 open-topped state landau carriage after the ceremony.

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Queen Elizabeth's grandson and his bride then appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in central London where they sealed their union with two kisses before a jubilant, cheering crowd who waved flags and banners.

"The monarchy is like our Hollywood, the movies, for us," said Californian Diane Weltz, who flew in especially.

Middleton, who wore a laced ivory-colored dress with a train for the ceremony, became the first "commoner" to marry a prince close to the throne in more than 350 years.

"I am glad the weather held off. We had a great day," she said in her first public comments after the wedding.

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The 29-year-old, whose mother's family has coal mining roots, has brought a sense of modernity to the monarchy and helped restore popularity to an institution tarnished by the death of William's hugely popular mother Princess Diana in 1997.

Charles Spencer, Diana's brother who famously excoriated the royals at her funeral in the same abbey, told the BBC the wedding was "very moving", before adding: "The only downside on a perfect day was Diana not being there."

Fans from Asia to the United States camped overnight outside the abbey to catch a glimpse of the future king and queen, whose marriage has fuelled a feel-good factor that briefly lifted Britain from its economic gloom.

More than 8,000 journalists descended on London and the ceremony was streamed live on YouTube, ensuring what experts expect will be one of the biggest global audiences ever.

Couple seal marriage with one sheepish kiss, then another

The crowd entered into the festive spirit on a day when threatened rain failed to materialize by wearing national flags, masks of the couple and even fake wedding dresses and tiaras.

"It should have been me!" shouted nurse Jo Newman, 27, dressed as a bride and clutching a bouquet of plastic roses.

Hundreds of police officers, some armed, dotted the royal routes in a major security operation. They made 55 arrests in London, mostly for minor offenses.

A sea of supporters cheered as the couple sealed their marriage with one sheepish kiss, then another.

World War Two and modern warplanes flew over the waving royals before they went inside for a champagne reception for 650 guests in the palace's 19 opulent state rooms.

It was a day that mixed royal pomp with splashes of informality.

The couple made a surprise appearance in an open-top vintage Aston Martin owned by the prince's father with the license plate "JU5T WED", trailing balloons to travel the short journey to St. James's Palace in a light-hearted and crowd-pleasing gesture.

They returned to Buckingham Palace for a more intimate party for 300 close friends and family. Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip left the younger crowd to dance into the early hours, media reported.

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