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28 April 2021

Ten years on: William and Kate’s fairytale wedding

28 April 2021

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s royal wedding was a grand celebration featuring two dresses, two receptions, a carriage procession, flypasts and two kisses on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

William’s private proposal to his former flatmate Kate Middleton happened during a romantic holiday to Kenya, when he smuggled his late mother’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring in his backpack to surprise his long-term girlfriend.

Five months later, nearly 25 million people in the UK tuned in to watch the live televised wedding ceremony on April 29 2011 – 10 years ago on Thursday – with the worldwide television audience estimated to be two billion.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

The bride wore an intricate ivory gown with lace applique floral detail designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, while the groom was dressed in the red tunic of the Irish Guards.

Made of ivory and white satin gazar, the skirt of Kate’s bridal gown resembled “an opening flower” with white satin gazar arches and pleats.

The train measured just 2.7 metres – modest in comparison to many previous royal brides.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

In keeping with tradition, the Queen gave grandson William a title as a gift on the morning of his wedding.

He was made the Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, with Kate becoming HRH Duchess of Cambridge, the Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus and a future Queen after saying her vows.

Inside Westminster Abbey, an avenue of trees lined the red carpet up to the altar and 2,000 guests watched the historic ceremony, performed by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

During the service, William told Kate she looked “beautiful” and joked to his father-in-law “We’re supposed to have just a small family affair”.

Much attention was given to Kate’s sister, Pippa, for her figure-hugging bridesmaid dress, with a Facebook page set up in honour of her derriere.

After the service, the newlyweds travelled in an open-top carriage for the 15-minute journey from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

More than a million people lined the procession route.

William and Kate kissed for crowds twice on the Palace balcony and watched a flypast.

Lip readers said William was seen to mouth “I love you” to his new bride.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

He later drove her back to Clarence House at the wheel of his father’s classic blue Aston Martin after a buffet reception for 650 guests at the Palace.

The car was decked in ribbons and balloons with “JU5T WED” on the number plate.

A yellow RAF Sea King rescue helicopter flew overhead as a surprise for William, who at the time was a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

An evening do for 300 guests at the Palace, hosted by Charles, followed – with Kate switching into another Sarah Burton gown.

The strapless white satin gazar dress featured diamante embroidered detail round the waist. William changed into black tie.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh missed Prince Harry’s best man speech, having already left for a weekend away after hosting the lunchtime reception.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

William and Kate had a slightly delayed honeymoon in the Seychelles a week after the wedding when William went back to work for the RAF for a few days.

The cost of the wedding was met by the Prince of Wales and the Middletons, but the security bill – with £6.35 million spent on policing – fell to the taxpayer.

Street parties were held across the country, and crowds packed The Mall in central London.

The Royal Wedding (PA Archive)

But some offered an alternative to wedding fever. The anti-monarchist pressure group Republic staged a “Not the Royal Wedding” street party in Holborn, London.

Official Royal Collection memorabilia also went on sale including a tankard, plates and a pill box, and Royal Mail produced a set of commemorative stamps featuring the couple’s engagement photos.

More than 8,500 journalists, photographers, and technical staff including 4,500 from 100 overseas outlets descended on London for the event, setting up in a temporary media village outside the Palace.

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