Prince William, son of Charles and the late Princess Diana, married Catherine Middleton, daughter of an entrepreneurial middle-class British family in Westminster Abbey minutes ago, with both bride and groom saying “I will” to the Archbishop of Canterbury in an hour-long ceremony that started at 11 a.m.
As Kate joined William at the altar, the prince could be seen to lean over to her and form the word “beautiful” as the two stood. Ms. Middleton was flanked by her father Michael Middleton and Prince William was joined by best man Prince Harry, William’s brother.
Watched on by the Queen, who has provided stability and continuity to the often scandal-prone British monarchy, the two appeared slightly nervous but made no visible gaffes in vowing to “love and cherish” each other, even as they have been together for nearly eight years. The two have become widely talked about as a decent and loving couple, not stuffy or elitist, and are widely popular among ordinary Brits.
The wedding, viewed worldwide, is seen here as a part fairly tale and part a historic leveling moment that may reconcile the excesses of the monarchy and royalty with the hopes and lives of ordinary British. Middleton, who will be the new Duchess of Cambridge, is seen at the outset of the marriage as well typecast for that role.
On a gray and damp day even the sun seemed to participate, making brief appearances during and after the couple’s time at the Abbey.
Much of the content of the wedding ceremony, witnessed by 1,900 dignitaries and friends, came from the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican church. Betrothals were preceded by the hymn “Guide me, O thou great Redeemer” which includes the lines, “Pilgrim through this barren land … strong Deliverer, be thou still my strength and shield.” The after-vows hymn was from Charles Wesley, “Love divine, all loves excelling…”
In an address after the betrothals, the Bishop of London, Richard Charters, stated that, “In a sense, every wedding is a royal wedding” – arguing for the dignity and importance of the marriage act in a civil society. The bishop added that with the world convulsed by many problems, the need for the future is “not for more knowledge” but for a more loving consciousness by all persons and better treatment of each other.
The new royal couple signed in private some three registers in the Abbey that have been signed by every couple for centuries, to fully validate the joining.
Middleton, known to have felt humiliated and irritated by the nickname “Waity Katy” slapped on her by the British media – is waiting no more. She was escorted to the Abbey from the Goring Hotel in Belgravia by her father Michael in a Rolls Royce Phantom Six with high windows, and that afforded a first look at the much anticipated wedding dress.
The new duchess arrived after the Queen and the prince to the Abbey and walked through a setting of greenery, flora, and potted trees that she had imported into the structure, which dates to the 1200s.
William was married in 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.
The new royal bride and groom left the Abbey en route to Buckingham Palace about 12:15 in an open carriage as the sun came out more fully. Kate was holding a spray of flowers including myrtle – a tradition going back to Queen Victoria – and William wearing his military hat and saluting. After traveling along the Mall and St. James Park in central London, they will appear on a balcony and Buckingham for a traditional kiss.
[Editor's note: The original version of this story misstated the age of Westminster Abbey.]