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

All is official as the royal couple say their I-dos and seal the deal with a kiss

By Natalie Finn Apr 29, 2011 12:05 PMTags
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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.

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.