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Prince William Marries Kate Middleton in a Ceremony Fit for a King

Wedding Ceremony
William & Kate's Royal Wedding

Make way for the new order.

His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, heir to the British throne, married Berkshire girl Catherine Elizabeth Middleton in a fairytale ceremony Friday that put the most glamorous of Hollywood weddings to shame.

Just how did this most uncommon of vow swaps blow your average celebrity nuptials out of the water? Beyond the round-the-clock coverage and millions of TV viewers? Let us count the ways...

The day started early enough for the wedding party (and way earlier for us Yanks), with Queen Elizabeth II bestowing the betrothed couple with new titles slightly after 8 a.m. Prince William is now His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, while his wife is Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus.

She's also a princess now, but it won't be on her business card.

The Bentley carrying the groom, who had been getting ready along with brother and best man Prince Harry at nearby Clarence House, pulled up to Westminster Abbey at around 10:20.

William, who is commissioned in all three of Britain's armed services, donned the bright red tunic of his Colonel of the Irish Guards uniform, a red stripe also running up his dark slacks. (Ironically, it's the groom who wore the Order of the Garter, the blue sash draped across his jacket, left to right.)

Carole Middleton, the mother of the bride, turned up at 10:30 clad in sky-blue day dress by Catherine Walker, escorted by her son James.

The royal family's caravan left Buckingham Palace at 10:35, led by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and followed by the groom's grandparents, Queen Elizabeth—dressed in yellow, as so many experts predicted—and Prince Philip. The queen spunkily followed her husband out of the left side of their chauffered vehicle rather than exit through the door held open that was closest to her.

Maid of honor and sister of the bride Pippa Middleton rode with the bridesmaids, a rather youthful group that included two 3-year-olds, to the church from the Goring Hotel, where Kate had been staying in an $8,000-per-night suite.

Kate Middleton AP Photo/Gero Breloer

At around 10:50, the Rolls Royce Phantom VI carrying the bride and her father, Michael Middleton, pulled away from the Goring, inciting a mass craning of the necks as people caught their first shadowy glimpses of Kate's gown through the windows.

And then, there was the bride, wearing—for all to see at last!—her appropriately stunning dress designed by Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton, with lacey long sleeves, a demure yet subtly sexy neckline and a regal train.

The queen lent Kate the Cartier "halo" tiara, which was presented to Elizabeth by her father, King George VI, on her 18th birthday. The bride's pear-shade, diamond drop earrings by Robinson Pelham, with a design inspired by the Middleton family's new crest, were a wedding gift from her parents.

Kate's bouquet was a picturesque arrangement of lily-of-the-valleys, sweet William, hyacinth, ivy and myrtle.

The 1,900 guests started filing through the North Door of Westminster Abbey nearly two hours before the scheduled start time of 11 a.m., though VIPs such as David and Victoria Beckham, Elton John and David Furnish, Guy Ritchie, and Rowan Atkinson and his wife cut it just a wee bit closer.

Also among the chosen people were Australian Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Ian Thorpe, Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, Prime Minister David Cameron (no small feat considering Tony Blair and Gordon Brown weren't invited), Deputy PM Nick Clegg, former PM John Major and leaders from the British Commonwealth, which includes Australia, India and Canada.

GALLERY: Royal Wedding VIP Arrivals

Because William is "only" second in line to the thrine, the wedding was not considered a state event, hence no invitations to the Obamas, Sarkozys, etc.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, officiated at the approximately hour-long ceremony, which was led by the Dean of Westminster, John Robert Hall. The Choir of Westminster Abbey, the Chapel Royal Choir and the London Chamber Orchestra provided the music.

Following hours (years, really) of age-old pomp and circumstance—Kate had to walk down an aisle that was approximately the length of a football field, but she got there—she and Wills said their I-dos.

The husband is going without, but his wife is wearing a ring fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold that the queen gave to William upon news of his engagement.

After the ceremony, which happily fell on a clear day, the newlyweds were ferried the mile distance back to Buckingham Palace in the circa-1902 State Landau coach, led on this occasion by Windsor Gray horses. Tis the same mode of transport that carried William's parents away from St. Paul's Cathedral on their wedding day in 1981.

Tens of thousands of people, many of whom started camping out earlier this week, turned out to watch the procession through Parliament Square, Horse Guards Road and the Mall, which connects Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.

About an hour or so after saying their I-dos, Kate and William were expected to appear on the palace balcony for their much anticipated celebratory smooch.

And after that, poor Kate will finally get to eat something after months of scrutiny that would set anyone's nerves on edge. The queen is hosting a canapé-and-champagne reception for 600, during which the two cakes—a traditional fruit and marzipan concoction and a chocolate-biscuit cake specifically requested by William—will be served.

Prince Charles is hosting the more raucous evening leg of the festivities for a downsized crowd of 300 tonight.

(Originally published April 29, 2010, at 4:10 a.m. PT)

GALLERY: Royal Wedding Ceremony Timeline

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