Relive the Royal Wedding: From Prince William’s ’embarrassing’ pet name for Kate Middleton to the whispers you missed

Get daily celeb exclusives and behind the scenes house tours direct to your inbox

Around a million people lined the streets of London, and across the globe two billion more were glued to TVs.

Inside historic Westminster Abbey, the pews were packed with international royals, presidents, prime ministers and celebrities.

But as His Royal Highness Prince William waited nervously at the altar, the only person in his world was the vision in ivory gliding down the aisle towards him.

And the sight of her took his breath away. “You look lovely… you look beautiful,” he whispered when she finally reached his side.

  • Kate Middleton laughs hysterically at Prince William as they play golf in latest royal visit

Miss Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, the middle-class girl from Berkshire, smiled nervously and gently let go of her father Michael’s hand.

Then, behind a veil secured by a priceless royal tiara, she took a deep breath and prepared for her transformation from commoner to future Queen.

It was just after 11am on Friday 29 April 2011 and the wedding of the century was finally under way.

After five months of anticipation, the world was witnessing the culmination of a fairy tale and revelling unashamedly in British pomp and pageantry.

But, most importantly, it was watching a young man achieve his “happy ever after” with the caring woman who had captured his heart.

Because 14 years earlier, the world wept for the teenage William as he walked up the same aisle with 12-year-old brother Prince Harry to bury their beloved mother.


  • Kate Middleton's 'awkward' first encounter with Prince William left her 'red-faced' and feeling 'shy'

How proud Princess Diana would have been of her boy and his beautiful bride on this glorious day!

And how the groom and best man Harry must have felt her presence and blessing.

Well-wishers had been flocking to Central London all week for the historic occasion, some pitching tents on the pavement to secure the best view of the procession.

William and Harry, 26, who spent the night before at Clarence House, went out to chat to some of them and the groom admitted he was “terrified of fluffing his lines”. After dawn broke, the roads between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey were soon jam-packed with crowds standing 30-people deep. And by 10am, when bells began pealing across the city, the excitement was positively tangible.

Ten minutes later, a great roar went up as a state Bentley pulled out of Clarence House with a waving, white-gloved hand at the window. It was followed by a flash of scarlet and gold braid, and then the smiling face of the groom in the dress uniform of a Colonel of the Irish Guards.

  • Prince William and Kate Middleton step out to pet lambs and drive tractor on visit to farm

William, the newly created Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, had never looked more handsome – or more nervous.

Between waves, he clasped his hands in his lap and fiddled with his tunic while Harry, in his Blues And Royals officers uniform, cracked jokes to relax him. By the time they reached the Abbey, William looked calmer.

As he made his way down the aisle, 28-year-old William stopped for a word with his uncle, Earl Spencer, and waved at familiar faces among the 1,900 guests.

Sir Elton John and partner David Furnish were there, along with socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and David Beckham and pregnant wife Victoria. Victoria looked stunning in a midnight blue dress and pillbox hat, while David wore his OBE – on the wrong side of his chest, before courtiers put him right.

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle join Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez and other celebs for Covid vaccine concert

Kate’s mother Carole, 55, arrived after the dignitaries, looking elegant in a sky-blue Catherine Walker coat and accompanied by son James, 24. Next, the junior royals were shuttled from Buckingham Palace in a fleet of minibuses. They arrived en masse at the Great West Door in a burst of colour – and quite a few giggles as the congregation spotted the elaborate fascinators worn by the York girls, Princesses Beatrice, 22, and sister Eugenie, 21.

Traditional elegance was soon restored with the arrival of Prince Charles, 62, and wife Camilla, 63, wearing a champagne silk dress and a hand-embroidered coat. A fanfare by State Trumpeter then heralded the arrival of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, 89.

Her Majesty, 85, was wearing a primrose yellow wool crepe outfit and hat trimmed with silk leaves – and a smile almost as sunny.

While they took their seats, the crowd outside could hear cheers rippling towards them as the bride’s car approached. Half an hour earlier, Kate had left the Goring Hotel in Belgravia and climbed into a Rolls Royce Phantom VI. If her heart was pounding, the 29-year-old didn’t show it, calmly waving from the window and chatting with her father.

But as she arrived at Westminster Abbey, the jitters set in. Kate emerged from the car with her head bowed, taking a moment to compose herself. It was our first proper glimpse of a dress that would take its place in the history books and fashion archives.

The tight-bodiced ivory satin and lace gown, designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, reminded many of the gown worn by Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.

But Kate’s dress highlighted the very best of British craftsmanship, embroidered by the seamstresses of the Royal School of Needlework with the national emblems of the rose, the thistle, the daffodil and the shamrock.

Her “something blue” was a pretty silk ribbon sewn inside the dress while the “old” and “borrowed” were touchingly combined in the tiara above her ivory silk tulle veil. It was Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s 1936 Cartier halo tiara – lent to her by the Queen, who had inherited it on her 18th birthday.

Kate’s diamond earrings, a gift from her parents, were based on their new family crest with stylised oak leaves and acorns. And she clutched a bouquet of myrtle, ivy, lily of the valley, hyacinth and sweet William.

Michael, 61, took his daughter’s hand and offered a comforting word as her sister and maid of honour, Pippa, helped to manoeuvre her glorious 9ft train. The 27-year-old looked stunning in her own white gown, also by Sarah Burton, and was unaware that her enviable figure was already making international headlines. She was concentrating on marshalling the young bridesmaids and pages. There was Margarita Armstrong-Jones, eight, Princess Margaret’s granddaughter and William’s second cousin, and Lady Louise Windsor, seven, the daughter of Prince Edward and wife Sophie.

William’s godchild Grace van Cutsem and Eliza Lopes, Camilla’s granddaughter, both three, were the other bridesmaids – all dressed in pretty ballerina gowns of English Cluny lace with lily of the valley and ivy in their hair.

Pageboys Billy Lowther-Pinkerton, 10, the son of William’s private secretary, and Tom Pettifer, eight, the son of his former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, wowed in red and gold uniforms styled on Regency officers from the Irish Guards.

They all took their places and waited for the choir to begin the introit, I Was Glad.

For a moment, Kate’s eyes welled up. Then she regained her composure and began her three-and-a-half-minute walk down the red-carpeted aisle, which was lined with greenery and white spring flowers.

This really was her moment.

Harry had turned and sneaked a look, telling his anxious brother, “Well, she’s here now – and she looks beautiful, I can tell you that!”

William stared dutifully ahead at the altar, but he could soon see for himself and told Kate how lovely she looked.

Then, in a bid to calm all their nerves, he leaned towards Michael and quipped, “We’re supposed to have just a small family affair!”

Then the formal service got under way with prayers, hymns, fanfares, anthems and organ and orchestral music.

By the time they reached their vows, you could hear a pin drop.

Guests and the billions watching worldwide waited to hear if Kate got William Arthur Philip Louis’s names wrong – like Diana got Charles’s wrong – or if the Prince would forget to share all his worldly goods with her.

William’s voice was clear and strong, but Kate’s was barely a whisper as she struggled to contain her emotions. There was a brief sticky moment when William tried to slip the wedding ring onto his bride’s finger… and then tried and tried again.

But with the band of Welsh gold finally in place, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, pronounced them husband and wife.

And suddenly, the silence was broken by a roar, sweeping in from the crowd that had been listening on speakers outside.

James Middleton read the lesson before a sermon, preached by the Bishop of London. Then, the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went to sign the register before beginning their journey together as man and wife.

As they walked down the aisle, they paused to bow and curtsey to the Queen.

With each step, their nerves began to ease and they started to soak up every detail of their big day, flashing looks of recognition and delight at friends in the congregation.

Reaching the nave, they passed the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Later, when the Abbey was quiet, Kate’s bridal bouquet would be placed on the grave – a touching tradition begun in 1923 when the Queen Mother laid her flowers in memory of her brother, Fergus.

Then, to the delight of the crowds, they emerged into the open. The bells rang, the people cheered and the couple beamed.

The 1902 State Landau, built for King Edward VII’s coronation, and four white horses were waiting to take them to Buckingham Palace.

William struggled to do up his gloves and Kate, waiting behind, smiled in amusement.

He helped her into the carriage and two footmen took their places. Then they were off on the short trip the nation hoped would mark the start of a long, happy marriage.

As the carriage procession left Westminster Abbey, history came to life once again as the rituals of great state occasions were followed to the letter. At first, the Duke and Duchess seemed a little overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the public’s welcome. Kate and William sat silently for a few seconds, trying to take in the cheers and shouts – and the blur of thousands of Union Flags being waved.

Many in the crowd had been on the streets to see Prince Charles with his new bride in the same carriage in 1981.

Others had wept as Diana’s coffin passed by 14 years earlier, followed by a young William and Harry, heads bowed in sorrow.

And now William’s face was a picture of happiness as his wedding procession made its way up Whitehall and along The Mall.

The Queen and Prince Philip were in the Semi-State Landau, accompanied by a Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, while Kate’s parents joined Charles and Camilla in another. Harry had been put in charge of bridesmaids Louise and Eliza and pageboy Tom – and he got them waving like real pros by the time they got to the Palace.

Each time William and Kate passed a guard of honour, the Prince sat up straight and saluted while Kate bowed her head demurely.

Finally, they turned onto The Mall and knew they would soon be able to relax. Kate was seen to turn and ask William, “Now, are you happy?”

“Yes! Yes!“ he replied. “It was a beautiful service. It really was. It was amazing…amazing… I’m so proud… you’re my wife!”

They then swept through the gates of Buckingham Palace and the ceremonial part of the day came to an end. Now it was time for family, fun – and that first kiss.

After posing for their official photos, taken in the Throne Room by Hugo Burnand, the bride, groom and wedding party appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

William and Kate knew what the crowds wanted. Charles and Diana had started it all on their wedding day 30 years earlier. Back then, Prince Andrew heard the crowds chanting, “Kiss her!” and urged his brother on. But Charles had to ask his mother’s permission before giving Diana the briefest peck on the lips.

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson had no such qualms and indulged in a four-second smooch five years later.

William was clearly building up to it, though. Harry and grandad Prince Philip seemed to share a cheeky joke as the newlyweds waved to the crowds.

Kate’s parents stood at one end of the balcony, looking slightly overwhelmed by the occasion, next to Charles and Camilla.

Bridesmaids Louise and Margarita danced around in excitement and the pageboys waved politely.

But little Grace, standing next to the bride, was grim-faced and frowning with her hands firmly clamped over her ears – worried about the noise of the impending flypast by the RAF.

Then it was time…William turned to Kate and said, “OK? Look at me, let’s kiss.”

As they locked lips, the crowd roared. Then William jokingly shouted across the balcony: ”Harry! Your go!”

Kate asked, “What’s next?” And William smiled, “One more? Come on…” So a second kiss sent the crowds wild. The flypast came next, including seven historic aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Fortunately for worried little Grace, it was over in seconds – and caring Kate, who had noticed her distress, gently coaxed the youngster into a smile.

The Queen then hosted a champagne reception for 650 guests, which featured 10,000 mouth-watering canapés. This let the bride and groom mingle with their guests in the State Apartments while harpist Claire Jones played quietly.

The couple also cut their cake, featuring eight tiers made from 17 different cakes, baked by Fiona Cairns. But in a break with tradition, they also cut a chocolate biscuit cake – William’s childhood favourite.

The reception ended at 3.30pm and William drove his wife back to Clarence House so they could change for the evening do, hosted by Charles.

He was at the wheel of his father’s beloved Aston Martin DB6, decorated by Harry with balloons and a “JU5T WED” number plate. And overhead, a yellow Sea King helicopter flying the RAF ensign dipped in salute to the Prince, who was a search-and-rescue pilot.

Later, with Kate looking radiant in a strapless white dress, they returned to the Palace to dance the night away with friends.

Singer Ellie Goulding performed and her cover of Elton John’s classic Your Song was the soundtrack to their first dance.

And at the end of a historic day watched by billions around the world, it was just the two of them again. Prince William gazed into his wife’s eyes and sang along with the lyrics – because life really was wonderful with Kate in his world.

Source: Read Full Article