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Spanish heir weds ex-journalist

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and former journalist Letizia Ortiz were married at a glittering ceremony in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral that brought together some 30 royal families.

Last Modified: 22 May 2004 16:49 GMT
Prince Felipe was considered Europe's most eligible bachelor

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and former journalist Letizia Ortiz were married at a glittering ceremony in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral that brought together some 30 royal families.

The ceremony began on Saturday some 15 minutes after its scheduled 09:00 GMT start when a smiling Ortiz, 31, arrived in driving rain that failed to dampen the festive mood as thousands of cheering Spaniards turned out for the occasion. 

After planting a quick kiss on the 36-year-old groom's cheek, the former news presenter entered the cathedral to the strains of a Handel organ concerto, looking radiant in an ivory white dress with a wide pearl collar and veil. 

The event was a far cry from the last time the family had gathered at the same venue two months ago for a memorial service for the 191 people killed in the 11 March train bombings in Madrid. 

Joyful setting

This time, the setting was joyful - and by the time the couple exchanged rather bashful kisses on the balcony of the royal palace even the sun had finally come out to dry drenched onlookers. 

Letizia Ortiz was married to
a former literature teacher

The joy was marred only by a small anti-wedding demonstration of several hundred people in the 2 May Square who chanted: "Tomorrow, Spain will be republican." 

Security was tight on Saturday, mindful not only of the Madrid bombings two months ago but also of the Catalan anarchist who disrupted the last royal wedding in Spain 98 years ago by throwing a bomb which killed 23. Some 18,000 police and 200 rooftop snipers were deployed for the wedding. 

VIPs

Some 1600 VIP guests attended the ceremony, while an estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide watched live television coverage. 

Some 30 Royal families attended
the Spanish wedding

The royal guests, including Britain's Prince Charles, arrived on Friday evening for a sumptuous banquet at the Pardo  palace. 

Other guests included Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, former South African president Nelson Mandela, and Queen Rania and Queen Noor of Jordan. 

For Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon the marriage was "just what Madrid needs following the worst suffering Madrid has experienced in decades," a reference to the train bombings.

Some anti-monarchists, appalled by the wedding's 21 million-euro (25 million-dollar) cost including a security bill of some eight million euros (nine million dollars), planned demonstrators for later on Saturday. Around one in five Spaniards profess republican sympathies.

Source:
AFP
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