On a grayish, damp London wedding day morning, it is all about “Kate.” Photos of a radiant bride-to-be, first daughter of the middle class to marry an heir to the throne in hundreds of years, dominate nearly every British front page on April 29. News has broken this morning from the Queen that Prince William and Catherine Middleton will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
By 10 am, an hour before the ceremony starts, a glittering array of guests in sartorial finery began filling Westminster Abbey. The Abbey ushers escorted celebrities, diplomats, prime ministers, friends, and 1,900 others down a red carpet to their seats. The Abbey for the first time has been filled with plants and potted trees and other flora, part of the wishes of Ms. Middleton for the couple’s marriage.
Ahead of nuptials, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williamson, told reporters he thought that William and Kate were “a very sensible couple.” Mr. Williamson added that every wedding needs “everyone who is looking on to be part of it.”
In London this includes thousands of people in Hyde Park grouped in front of large screens or lined along the wedding route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. They gathered early in the cool damp weather, draped in Union Jacks and standing on makeshift fences to catch a glimpse of the couple once they are married, and who are expected to make a traditional kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony around 1:20 pm.
Prince William and his younger brother Harry, the best man, have left Clarence House quarters in a burgundy Rolls Royce. William is wearing the uniform of a colonel of the Irish Guards, a deep red coat with a Knight of the Order of the Garter blue sash and RAF helicopter wings on his chest.
Ms. Middleton and her family left the Goring Hotel, offering the first view of the wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton of the design firm Alexander McQueen – a simple but elegant gown with lace sleeves and a long veil. She walked solemnly and slowly, with a firm grip of her father's arm and trailed by sister Pippa Middleton and her young attendants, to join Prince William at the altar.
They exchanged traditional vows, in solemn and subdued tones, "to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law." After being pronounced man and wife, they sung, "Love divine, all loves excelling" – the words of which the new Duchess of Cambridge appeared to know by heart – and listened to a series of hymns and prayers, including the Lord's Prayer.
In keeping with a somewhat less formal wedding, later tonight the Queen will watch the cutting of the cake, then leave royal guests to disco in the throne room.