29 Apr 2011

Millions watch Royal Wedding of Kate and William

Thousands of people gather for the wedding of the century at Westminster Abbey as Prince William marries Kate Middleton.

Royal Wedding: build up to William and Kate's big moment. (getty)

Hundreds of thousands gathered in London to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The Royal bride arrived to cheers at Westminster Abbey dressed in an ivory gown with lace applique floral detail designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. Earlier Prince William arrived in a red military tunic with best man Prince Harry at his side.

The Prince and Kate were pronounced man and wife in a historic fairytale ceremony at the Abbey.

As the marriage was cheered by the crowds outside the Abbey, the former Miss Middleton became HRH the Duchess of Cambridge while William was earlier made a duke by the Queen.

An estimated two billion people in more than 180 countries will follow the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Guests began arriving early to the Abbey, much to the delight of fans gathered outside.

The Queen was cheered on her way to the Abbey with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Dressed in primrose yellow, the Queen was greeted by state trumpeters inside the Abbey.

David and Victoria Beckham were greeted by cheers from the crowd as they arrived to take their seats for the service.

Singer turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham chose a dress from her latest collection while David Beckham wore a Ralph Lauren morning suit with the OBE he received in 2003 pinned to the right lapel.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the Chancellor George Osborne were also in attendance along with their wives.

Other high-profile guests included Elton John, Commons Speaker John Bercow, TV presenter Ben Fogle and socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

So many tents are up outside QEII you can hardly walk on that side at all. Mad, mad, mad. Wedding onlooker

And Prince William delighted crowds on the Mall last night with a surprise walkabout to meet fans waiting for a glimpse of the Royal couple. He unexpectedly left Clarence House at around 8.30pm with his brother, where he spent his final evening of bachelorhood, to shake hands with members of the public.

Looking relaxed and happy, the Prince chatted with fans on both sides of the street and took time to pose for pictures.

Earlier Kate Middleton waved to crowds outside The Goring hotel as she made her final appearance before the wedding. Dressed in a black and white spotted dress, she was accompanied by sister Pippa and mother Carole.

Tens of thousands have camped overnight in the streets with many of London’s landmark views transformed into temporary “tent cities”, while hundreds of street parties are taking place around the UK.

One onlooker told Channel 4 News: “I went out to take some photos and it took 40 mins to walk to Westminster tube and back. The pavements are so overcrowded with the barriers, people are walking in the road.

“So many tents are up outside QEII you can hardly walk on that side at all. Mad, mad, mad.”

Guest list controversy

The wedding guest list has caused considerable controversy. The Syrian Ambassador to the UK was “uninvited” at the last minute because of the violence currently taking place in his country, but other questionable political figures will be in attendance. The King of Swaziland and Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia both received invites despite also being accused of human rights violations. The Crown Prince of Bahrain declined his invitation because of recent unrest in his nation.

Meanwhile, Labour Party figures say the apparent snub to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown is likely a “mistake”. By comparison, former Tory prime ministers John Major and Baroness Thatcher were sent invites but will not be attending because of other engagements and for health reasons.

LIVE BLOG: Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Click here for the latest

High security

More than 1,500 soldiers, sailors and air crew are on ceremonial duty to line William and Kate’s procession route between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, just under one mile (1.6 kilometres) away. An additional 5,000 uniformed and undercover police are on standby.

London’s Metropolitan Police say a string of raids on illegal squats across London in which 20 people were arrested are not connected to the wedding.

Officers made at least three raids on Thursday morning at squatter sites connected with anarchist and environmental protest groups. On Thursday night Police arrested a further three people in London, who are believed to have been planning to behead effigies at the Royal Wedding.

Two men, aged 68 and 45, and a woman, 68, were detained by police in Brockley and it is understood a guillotine was seized during the incident.

Royal Wedding security zone.

(Map: Royal Wedding security zone)

‘Incredibly moving’

Prince William and his bride-to-be have revealed they feel “moved” by the public affection shown to them since their engagement was announced last November.

The couple released a message which read: “We are both so delighted that you are able to join us in celebrating what we hope will be one of the happiest days of our lives.

“The affection shown to us by so many people during our engagement has been incredibly moving, and has touched us both deeply.”

Searching for Kate and William

Wedding fever has swept through the internet with Google reporting a surge in “royal wedding” searches. In the last month the number of people looking for information on the big day has gone up by 80 per cent. The UK hotspots for wedding searches are Edinburgh, Hertford and Wrexham in Wales.

But the new member of the Royal family is not yet the most searched “Kate” online. She lags behind supermodel Kate Moss and singers Kate Nash and Kate Bush.