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On April 29, 2011, the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was held in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London, amidst much fanfare. Prince William, the son of Prince Charles of Wales, the heir apparent to the throne of England, and Lady Diana Spencer, had announced his engagement to Catherine in November 2010.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Prince William met Catherine Middleton, a fellow art history student at the University of St Andrews in 2001. On October 20, 2010 the two were engaged after a long courtship. Queen Elizabeth II granted William the title Duke of Cambridge on the morning of the wedding. She also conferred on him the titles Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. Catherine became the Duchess of Cambridge upon her marriage to William.

The Royal Wedding

The build-up and the ceremony were closely followed by the press and by people across the world. The ceremony was held on the feast day of St Catherine of Siena, April 29, 2011 at 11 am GMT at the John Robert Hall of the Westminster Abbey in London. The wedding service was conducted by Reverend John Hall, the dean of Westminster. William and Catherine were married by Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury. Reverend Dr Richard Chartres, the bishop of London delivered the sermon on the occasion.

The cost of the wedding, estimated at about £20 million was borne by the Royal Family and the Middletons. Security and transport costs were borne by the British treasury. The couple declined wedding gifts and asked for donations to be made to charitable causes in exchange. Security arrangements in London were beefed-up for the occasion.


The Bridal Party

Prince William broke with tradition and asked Prince Harry, his brother, to serve as his best man. Catherine asked her sister, Pippa Middleton to be her maid of honor. William Lowther-Pinkerton, the 10-year-old son of James and Susannah Lowther-Pinkerton and Tom Pettifer, the eight-year-old son of Charles and Alexandra Pettife were the pages of the groom. Seven-year-old Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of Prince Edward and Sophie (the earl and countess of Wessex) Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the eight-year-old daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Linley, three-year-old Grace van Cutsem, daughter of Hugh and Emilie van Cutsem, and Eliza Lopes, the three-year-old daughter of Harry and Laura Lopes were the bridesmaids at the wedding.

The Public Appearance

Following the wedding ceremony, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge rode to the Buckingham Palace in a state carriage accompanied by eighteen Horse Guards. At about 1:25 pm the royal couple made their first public appearance as man and wife from the balcony of the palace. On the insistence of the crowd assembled to cheer them, they kissed twice. Seven aircraft including a Spitfire, Hurricane and a Lancaster flew in formation over Buckingham Palace. They were followed by two Tornados and two Typhoons. Soon after Prince William drove his bride to Clarence House in a classic Aston Martin DB6 Volante that bore the number plate "JU5T WED", through a cheering crowd.

The Outfits

Sarah Burton, creative director of the fashion brand Alexander McQueen, designed the floor-length wedding dress made of ivory satin gazar and lace. The lace appliqué of the silk tulle skirt was  designed to represent the rose, daffodil, shamrock and the thistle. The bride was fully veiled and her train measured almost nine feet. Catherine wore a Cartier halo diamond tiara lent to her by the Queen. Catherine's bouquet contained a sprig of myrtle from the tree planted by Queen Victoria in 1840, Lily of the Valley, Hyacinth, and Sweet William. Prince William wore his Irish Guards Officer’s uniform with a forge cap. The prince chose to wear the wings of the Army Air Corps and his medals from the Golden Jubilee and the Afghanistan Campaign. While Catherine’s wedding ring was made of Welsh gold, Prince William decided not to wear a wedding band.

The Wedding Cake

Florina Cairns and her team put together a magnificent eight-tiered wedding cake for the royal couple to cut at their Buckingham Palace reception. Covered in white icing and cream, the cake had 900 finely crafted sugar-paste flowers and held the center stage at the reception hosted by the Queen. In keeping with the ‘language of flowers’ Catherine had instructed that the cake be adorned with seventeen different sugar flowers including rose, daffodil, ivy, honeysuckle, jasmine, heather, lavender, and daisy. Using elements of the Joseph Lambeth technique, Ms Cairns fashioned the sensational cake from dried fruits, French brandy, eggs, and flour. The newlyweds were also sent a cake by McVities, a chocolate biscuit recipe from the Royal Family collection.

The Guest List

About 1900 guests attended the 'semi-state' wedding. The heads of Commonwealth states, monarchs from many countries, monarchs of many countries, members of the Royal household  family, and friends of the couple attended the ceremony at Westminster. About 650 guests attended the luncheon reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at her Buckingham Palace residence. Prince Charles hosted an evening dinner dance to celebrate the wedding and about 300 guests were invited to attend.

The Celebrations

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, had proclaimed  a national holiday that day. The use of state carriages, Household Cavalry and Foot Guards was authorized as Prince William is the second in line to the throne. Through the United Kingdom over 5500 street parties were held in celebration of the wedding. Over a million people cheered the royal couple as they rode from Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. Though most of them were Londoners, people had poured in from all parts of the world to take part in the celebrations. London wore a festive look on April 29, 2011. The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was aired live and about 26.3 million people in the United Kingdom watched the ceremony. An additional 10.4 million people from all over the world watched the couple exchange vows. The You Tube videos of the royal wedding on TheRoyalChannel have been viewed by over seventy-two million people.

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