Royal kiss cheered by millions

20:56, Apr 29 2011
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Prince William and his brother and best man Prince Harry.
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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive.
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In this image taken from video, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives at Westminster Abbey.
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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to attend the Royal Wedding
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Catherine Middleton with the father Michael Middleton arrives.
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Catherine Middleton arrives.
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Kate Middleton waves as she arrives at Westminster Abbey.
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General view in Westminster Abbey.
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Pippa Middelton, sister of the bride Kate Middleton arrives.
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Prince William greets Kate Middleton as she arrives at the alter with her father Michael Middleton.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton stand at the altar with Kate's father Michael Middleton inside Westminster Abbey.
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In this image taken from video, Kate Middleton walks down the aisle as she arrives at Westminster Abbey.
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Prince William sings beside his bride Catherine Middleton and her father Michael Middleton.
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Prince William exchanges rings with his bride Catherine Middleton in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
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Kate Middleton, center, accompanied by her father Michael Middleton, right, and her sister Pippa Middleton, who is the maid of honour, enter Westminster Abbey.
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Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey, London, during their wedding service.
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In this image taken from video, Britain's Prince William, left, places the ring on the finger of his bride, Kate Middleton.
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Britain's Prince William, centre right, and Kate Middleton, centre left, stand at the altar during their wedding service at Westminster Abbey.
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Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, left, wave as they leave Westminster Abbey.
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Prince William and his new bride Catherine Middleton stand in front of the altar during the service.
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Their Royal Highnesses Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge prepare to begin their journey by carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.
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Britain's Prince William, right, and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, leave Westminster Abbey.
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Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, left, smiles as they leave Westminster Abbey.
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Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, left, wave as they leave Westminster Abbey.
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Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey.
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Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William travel to Buckingham Palace along The Mall in the 1902 State Landau along the Procession Route.
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Well wishers with flags surge along the Mall towards Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
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Britain's Prince William kisses his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Royal Wedding.

Prince William and Kate Middleton married at Westminster Abbey in a sumptuous show of British pageantry that attracted a huge world audience and breathed new life into the monarchy.

One million well-wishers watched military bands in black bearskin hats and household cavalrymen in shining breastplates escorting the beaming couple in a 1902 open-topped state landau carriage after the ceremony.

The newly-weds then appeared on the balcony of the Queen's Buckingham Palace where they sealed their union with two kisses before a jubilant, cheering crowd who waved flags and banners.

"The monarchy is like our Hollywood, the movies, for us," said Californian Diane Weltz, who treated her daughter Samantha to a trip to London for her 21st birthday.

Middleton, who wore a laced ivory coloured dress with a train for the ceremony, became the first "commoner" to marry a prince in close proximity to the throne in more than 350 years.

The 29-year-old, whose mother's family has coal mining roots, has brought a sense of modernity to the monarchy and helped restore popularity to an institution tarnished by the death of William's hugely popular mother Princess Diana in 1997.

Fans from Asia to the United States camped overnight outside the abbey to catch a glimpse of the future king and queen, whose marriage has fuelled a feel-good factor that has briefly lifted Britain from its economic gloom.

More than 8000 journalists descended on London and the ceremony was streamed live on YouTube, ensuring what experts expect will be one of the biggest global audiences ever.

SEALED WITH KISSES


The crowd entered into the festive spirit on a day when threatened rain failed to materialise by wearing national flags, masks of the couple and even fake wedding dresses and tiaras.

"It should have been me!" shouted nurse Jo Newman, 27, dressed as a bride and clutching a bouquet of plastic roses.

Hundreds of police officers, some armed, dotted the royal routes in a major security operation. Plain clothes officers mixed with the masses who were packed behind rails to watch the couple seal their marriage with one sheepish kiss, then another.

World War Two and modern warplanes flew over the waving royals before they headed inside for a champagne reception for 650 guests in the palace's 19 opulent state rooms.

The couple made a surprise appearance in an open-top vintage Aston Martin owned by the prince's father with the licence plate "JU5T WED" trailing balloons to travel the short journey to St James's Palace in another informal and crowd-pleasing gesture.

They will return to Buckingham Palace for a more intimate dinner and party for 300 close friends and family.

Their honeymoon starts tonight (NZ time) and the venue has been kept virtually a state secret. When that is over, speculation is bound to turn to when Middleton becomes pregnant.

The exuberance of royal fans was not shared throughout Britain. For some, the biggest royal wedding since Diana married Charles in 1981 was an event to forget, reflecting divided opinion about the monarchy.

In the economically depressed northern city of Bradford, for example, businessman Waheed Yunus said: "It's two young people getting married. It's as simple as that. It happens throughout the whole world every single day.

"There are much more pressing issues. There are much more important things going on in the world."

The marriage between William, 28, and Middleton, dubbed "Waity Katie" for their long courtship, has cemented a recovery in the monarchy's popularity.

A series of scandals involving senior royals, Britain's economic problems and Diana's death after her divorce from Prince Charles led many to question the future of the monarchy.

But Middleton's background, William's appeal, the enduring adoration for his mother and a more media-savvy royal press team have helped to restore their standing with the wider public.

A Daily Mail survey showed 51 per cent of people believed the wedding would strengthen the monarchy in Britain, compared with 65 per cent who said the marriage between Prince Charles and divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 would weaken it.

However, while Queen Elizabeth, 85, exercises limited power, and is largely a symbolic figurehead in Britain and its former colonies, critics question the privileges she and her family enjoy, particularly at a time when the economy is so weak.

The monarchy officially costs the British taxpayer around £40 million (NZ$82.5m) a year, while anti-royalists put the figure at closer to £180 million (NZ$371m).

DRESS DESIGNER UNVEILED

Middleton's dress, the subject of fevered speculation for months in the fashion press, was a traditional ivory silk and satin outfit with a lace applique and flowing train.

It was designed by Sarah Burton of the Alexander McQueen label, named after the British designer who committed suicide.

The bride wore a tiara loaned by the queen and the diamond and sapphire engagement ring that belonged to Diana, who was divorced from Prince Charles in 1996, a year before her death in a car crash in Paris aged just 36.

The royals' cool reaction to Diana's death contrasted with an outpouring of public grief and marked a low point for the family. Some questioned whether the institution, a vestige of imperial glory, had outlived its unifying role in a modern state divided by partisan politics and regional separatism.

About 5500 street parties will be held across Britain, in keeping with tradition, although they will be more common in the more affluent south of England than in the poorer north.

Bells pealed loudly and trumpets blared as 1900 guests earlier poured into the historic abbey, coronation site for the monarchy since William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066. The abbey's bells will ring out for three full hours.

The queen, other royals, Prime Minister David Cameron, David and Victoria Beckham, the footballer-pop star couple, and singer Elton John were among famous guests at the abbey. Elton John sang "Candle in the Wind" at Diana's funeral in the abbey.

They joined 50 heads of state as well as friends, charity workers and war veterans who know the prince from his military career in what commentators said was a more progressive snapshot of modern Britain than previous royal weddings.

Middleton has been given the title Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, after the queen made her grandson William the Duke of Cambridge to mark the marriage.

William could face a long wait for the throne. His grandmother Queen Elizabeth shows little sign of slowing down at 85 and his father Charles is a fit and active 62-year-old.

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Royal fans share a kiss as they wait at Saint James Park for Kate Middleton and her father, Michael, to travel in a Rolls Royce to Westminster Abbey.
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Royal enthusiasts celebrate at first light along the Royal Wedding route.
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A Royal fan dressed like a queen stands outside Buckingham Palace while waiting for Kate Middleton and her father, Michael, to travel in a Rolls Royce to Westminster Abbey.
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Inside tent from left to right, Michelle Berrisford, Storme Berrisford and Sommer Berrisford from Staffordshire camp overnight on the Royal Wedding route.
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Royal enthusiasts sleep in an improvised camp on the Royal Wedding route near Westminster Abbey.
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Jordan Lee from Jackson Mississippi emerges from a temporary lavatory after spending the night along the Royal Wedding route.
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Police officers ride motorcycles along The Mall in London on the day of the royal wedding.
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A man is restrained by police officers outside Westminster Abbey.
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A policeman stands guard at the junction of the Mall and Horse Guards Road.
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A royal enthusiast talks to a policeman at the junction of the Mall and Horse Guards Road.
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Royal enthusiasts from Sussex camp at the junction of the Mall and Horse Guards Road.
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A royal enthusiast from Bedfordshire poses at the junction of the Mall and Horse Guards Road.
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Royal enthusiasts Boepple from Huston, Texas poses with a replica of the Kate Middleton's engagment ring, at the junction of the Mall and Horse Guards Road.
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A woman applies make-up.
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Workers make the final preparations on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
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Well wishers line the route ahead of the Royal Wedding.
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Police officers walk down The Mall before the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton.
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Well wishers ahead of the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey.
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A policeman speaks with well wishers ahead of the Royal Wedding.
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Final preparations take place on The Mall.
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Well wishers in masks wave for the camera.
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Well wishers wave flags as they line the route.
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Mounted police patrol the area.
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This image taken from video shows a general view of guests gathering inside Westminster Abbey.
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Prime Minister John Key and his wife Bronagh show off their Royal Wedding outfits before leaving for Westminster Abbey.
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This image taken from video shows a general view of guests gathering inside Westminster Abbey.
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In this image taken from video, a general view of Westminster Abbey is seen.
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Australian Olympian Ian Thorpe arrives.
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Royal supporters wave British Union Jack flags along the processional route.
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Crowds cheer as Britain's Prince William, and his brother and best man Prince Harry, arrive at Westminster Abbey.
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People wave flags in St James Park after the wedding of Britain's William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
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People wave flags in St James Park after the wedding of Britain's William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
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Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William travel to Buckingham Palace along The Mall in the 1902 State Landau along the Procession Route.
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Well wishers with flags surge along the Mall towards Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
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Australian Olympian Ian Thorpe arrives.
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Guests arrive to attend the Royal Wedding.
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Guests arrive to attend the Royal Wedding.
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Soccer star David Beckham and his wife Victoria arrive at Westminster Abbey.
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The Right Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster holds the Order of Service.
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U.K. socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson arrives.
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British footballer David Beckham (L) and British designer Victoria Beckham arrive at the West Door of Westminster Abbey.
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Name places and programmes on seats in Westminster Abbey ahead of the Royal Wedding.
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British House of Common's speaker John Bercow and his wife Sally arrive at Westminster Abbey.
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Singer/Songwriter Elton John, left, and David Furnish arrive to attend the Royal Wedding.
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Guests arrive at Westminster Abbey.
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London Mayor Boris Johnson, centre, arrives at Westminster Abbey.
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Guests arrive in Westminster Abbey.
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Guests arrive in Westminster Abbey ahead of the Royal Wedding.
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Former British Prime Minister John Major and Norma Major arrive to attend the Royal Wedding.
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Former British Prime Minister John Major and Norma Major arrive to attend the Royal Wedding.
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David Cameron Britain's Prime Minister and his wife Samantha arrive at the West Door of Westminster Abbey.
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British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam Gonzalez Duantez arrive.
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In this image taken from video, guests wait for the start of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
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Britain's Prince William is on his way to Westminster Abbey.
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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, right, and Frances Osborne, third left, arrive to attend the Royal Wedding.
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Britain's Prince William, left, and his best man Britain's Prince Harry arrive at Westminster Abbey.
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Britain's Prince William waves as he arrives at Westminster Abbey.
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Prince William of Wales is greeted by The Very Reverend Dr John Hall as he arrives to attend his Royal Wedding.
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Prince Albert II of Monaco and Miss Charlene Wittstock arrive to attend the Royal Wedding.
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Carole Middleton, the mother of Kate Middleton, arrives at the West Door of Westminster Abbey.
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Princess Beatrice of York arrives at the West Door of Westminster Abbey.
A combo picture shows guests arriving for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton
LINING UP: A combo picture shows guests arriving for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton From top left, British footballerr David Beckham and his wife, Victoria, Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock, Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium and Princess Mathilde, Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima of The Netherlands, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Daniel, Duke of Vastergotland, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Maria Teresa, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha, Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, British singer Elton John and his partner David Furnish, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei.
A combo picture shows guests wearing hats. (From top left) Victoria Beckham, Princess Letizia, Charlene Wittstock, the fiancee of Prince Albert II of Monaco, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Anne, the Princess Royal, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Queen Sofia of Spain, Carole Middleton, Kate's mother, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall arrive for the wedding ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
IF THE HAT FITS: A combo picture shows guests wearing hats. (From top left) Victoria Beckham, Princess Letizia, Charlene Wittstock, the fiancee of Prince Albert II of Monaco, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Anne, the Princess Royal, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Queen Sofia of Spain, Carole Middleton, Kate's mother, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall arrive for the wedding ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Reuters