Prince William and Kate Middleton marry at London’s Westminster Abbey.
|The couple shared a much-anticipated first public kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace [EPA]|
Prince William, Britain’s future king, and Kate Middleton have married at a service in London’s Westminster Abbey.
They were pronounced husband and wife on Friday at the ceremony as one million people packed the capital’s streets and an estimated two billion more watched across the world.
About 1,900 guests were in attendance, including footballer David Beckham, his wife Victoria, and musician Elton John.
Middleton, 29, emerged from a Rolls-Royce at the abbey, dressed in a long-sleeved, ivory-coloured silk and satin dress, designed by Sarah Burton from the Alexander McQueen fashion house.
The bride wore a tiara loaned by the queen and the diamond and sapphire engagement ring that belonged to William’s mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 aged 36.
The first “commoner” to marry a prince in close proximity to the throne in over 350 years, Middleton is seen as the new, modern face of the British monarchy.
William is the eldest son of Prince Charles, and second in succession from the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
Buckingham Palace announced that the couple have received the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Following the ceremony, the prince, in full military regalia, and his new bride made their way from the abbey to Buckingham Palace in a 1902 open-topped state landau carriage.
A large gathering outside the palace cheered as the couple appeared on the balcony and took their first much-anticipated public kiss.
The palace is to hold two parties for the couple on Friday, one hosted by the queen for 650 guests, and an evening dinner dance for 300 close friends.
‘Born to be a queen’
Hundreds of thousands of people from across world had descended on London for the wedding, some wearing Union Jack dresses, others with painted faces and holding fluttering flags.
“We wanted to feel the atmosphere, how the British get excited,” said Zhang Ying, a Chinese university student, who declared Middleton was “born to be a queen”.
|About 1,900 guests were in attendance at the wedding, including David Beckham and his wife Victoria [AFP]|
“The monarchy is like our Hollywood, the movies, for us,” said 48-year-old Californian Diane Weltz who had treated her daughter Samantha to a trip to London for her 21st birthday.
Many well-wishers had spent the night sleeping in the streets around the abbey to make sure they got a prime spot to see Prince William, 28, and Middleton emerge as a married couple.
“I managed to catch a few hours’ sleep in a doorway, but I don’t mind, today is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I had to be here,” said Canadian Jay Edmonds.
However, not everyone was happy with the event, John Deery, 45, from west London, described the royal family as “unjustifiable'” in the modern day and age.
“What I want is a democratic alternative to the monarchy,” he said.
Hundreds of police officers, some armed, had dotted the royal routes in a major security operation.
Plain clothes officers mixed with the crowds who were packed behind rails.
Police arrested 55 people in London on Friday for a range of mostly minor offences.
‘Happiest days of our lives’
In their official wedding programme, the couple’s message read: “We are both so delighted that you are able to join us in celebrating what we hope will be one of the happiest days of our lives.
“The affection shown to us by so many people during our engagement has been incredibly moving, and has touched us both deeply.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone most sincerely for their kindness.”
The British government is hoping the wedding will lift people’s spirits during a period of tough austerity measures.
The Conservative-led coalition is making $135bn in spending cuts through to 2015, with hundreds of thousands of government jobs being lost.