Bells pealed, crowds cheered, even the sun put in a timely appearance, as Prince William emerged from Westminster Abbey with his bride on his arm. Wearing a broad smile, a Wartski wedding ring of Welsh gold and an ivory gown with lace applique, Kate Middleton – now Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge – joined The Firm amid the pomp and pageantry Britain prides itself on performing well. Before a global television audience of many millions, Kate played her part to perfection. From the dress – by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, kept a secret until the last moment and sending the British fashion industry into paroxyms of ecstacy – to the 1936 Cartier diamond tiara loaned by the Queen, she looked every inch the fairytale princess. Which, of course, she was not. The Queen's conferring of the ancient title of Duke of Cambridge on her grandson just hours before the ceremony deprived his wife of the title Princess Catherine. But she is a duchess, which is several rungs up the social ladder than her standing before entering the 1,000-year-old abbey this morning.
And there was no mention of fairytales – unlike 30 years ago when Robert Runcie, then Archbishop of Canterbury, gushingly pronounced Prince Charles's union with Lady Diana Spencer "the stuff of fairytales". Lessons have since been learned. Instead, the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, read a prayer penned by William and Kate, and asking for spiritual help to guide them through their new life together. And this time, the bride did not forget her groom's name and the groom did not stumble over the wedding vows. Indeed, apart from some slight wrestling required get the tight ring on to Kate's finger, everything appeared to go without a hitch. William, in the bright red dress uniform of a colonel of the Irish Guards, whispered: "You look incredible, beautiful," as his bride arrived at his side in front of the High Altar. The two exchanged smiles and glances throughout the service.
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