William and Kate wed with world watching

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Amidst much fanfare, Prince William and his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, were married on Friday in one of the largest and most-watched events in decades — an interlude of romance in a time of austerity and a moment that may shape the future of the British monarchy.

Arriving after around 40 minutes after her husband-to-be, Middleton rode to Westminster Abbey to offer a first glimpse of her wedding dress — a creation by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen in white and ivory, with a two-metre train, that had been the object of furious speculation. She wore a delicate veil with intricate lace on the neckline and a diamond tiara lent for the occasion by Queen Elizabeth II.

A little over an hour after they arrived at the abbey, the newlyweds emerged on a red carpet onto the streets to a peal of bells to step into a 99-year-old, open, horse-drawn carriage. While they started the ceremony as a prince and what the British call a commoner, they emerged as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge —- their new titles granted earlier on Friday by the queen.
The ceremony — a British specialty in pomp and circumstance — was designed as much to celebrate their marriage as to inject national pride after years of calamities within the royal family. Reveling in the pageantry, the couple waved to jubilant crowds as their procession, escorted by equestrian guardsmen in scarlet tunics and silver breastplates, traversed the streets of London towards Buckingham Palace.

The service followed Anglican tradition, with the prince and Middleton both saying “I will” to the wedding vows Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the Anglican denomination. Middleton however, did not pledge to “obey” Prince William, as was once usual, but instead to “love, comfort, honor and keep” him. “With this ring I thee wed; with my body I thee honor; and all my worldly goods with thee I share,” William said, repeating the words of the archbishop.

The wedding’s guest list has been the source of some controversy. Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not invited, though their predecessors, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, were. The crown prince of Bahrain voluntarily gave up his invitation last weekend in the face of criticism over violently suppressed protests in his country. On Thursday, amid questions in British newspapers about the attendance of ambassadors from Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe, among others, the Syrian emissary to London, Sami Khiyami, had his place revoked. The wedding guests ranged from the singer Elton John to Prince Albert II of Monaco and the leaders in Britain of faiths from the Church of England to Zoroastrianism.

After the ceremony the couple were to host a reception at Buckingham Palace. At 1:25 pm local time, they would appear on a balcony there, kiss for the public for the first time as a married couple and witness a fly-past by vintage airplanes. Before the service, in ascending order of royal rank, Middleton’s new in-laws-to-be and members her own family had driven to the abbey in a variety of Rolls Royce, Bentley and Jaguar cars, cheered on by crowds standing 10 or 15 deep along the way. Just before the bride reached the abbey, the queen arrived wearing a primrose dress and hat and accompanied by Prince Philip at the same place they were married in 1947 and where she was crowned in 1953.

The couple’s relationship, which began when they were both students of art history at St Andrews University in Scotland more than nine years ago, had been broadly welcomed among Britons who followed the royal family through tortured years of dashed hopes and scandal, much of it centering on the doomed marriage of William’s mother, Princess Diana, to his father, Prince Charles. Charles himself attended the ceremony with his second wife, the former Camilla Parker-Bowles, now the duchess of Cornwall, whom he married in 2005 and who was once criticised by Diana as the “third person” in her marriage.

Kate Middleton would be known as the Duchess of Cambridge after her marriage, and also the Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus. According to British protocol, she would not be able to formally call herself Princess Catherine because she was not born a princess.

Hundreds of thousands of people converged on London’s streets on Friday, craning for a glimpse of the royal family and the 1,900 other invited guests holding the hottest ticket in town inviting them to the ceremony at the centuries-old abbey.

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