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The Royal Wedding
At 11am on Friday 29th April 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton married at the biggest royal wedding in 30 years. Ever since they announced their engagement on the 16th November 2010, the world watched and waitied for more information.
Here you can find all the information about the big day and about the people that helped shape it.
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The Groom: Prince William of Wales
Born in 1982, Prince William is the eldest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth’s grandson. Ever since his birth he has been second in line to the British throne, meaning that if his father replaces Queen Elizabeth II as king, William would be the next in line.
After going through school at Eton, he went to study Geography at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. It was at St Andrews that he met Kate Middleton, who was also studying there. After university he started training for the military and is now a qualified helicopter pilot working with a search and rescue team in Wales.
Prince William is well known for his love of sport, and in 2006 he became President of England’s Football Association and royal patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.
The Bride: Kate Middleton
Kate was born into a normal family in 1982 and was christened Catherine Elizabeth Middleton. Raised in the English county of Berkshire, she was the eldest of three children.Her mother was a flight attendant and her father worked for British Airways. On the left you can see a picture of Kate aged 5 years old.
Kate went to an independent school in Wiltshire, before studying History of Art at the University of St Andrews. After graduating in 2006, Kate took a job as an accessory buyer with a clothing chain. Since then she has become very well known in Britain as Prince William’s girlfriend and then fiancé, and has accompanied William on a number of official visits.
She is considered a fashion icon in Britain after being placed on a number of best dressed lists and has been widely praised for her very English style.
The Story So Far...
Prince William and Kate first met in at the University of St Andrews in 2001. At the time they were both studying History of Art and after becoming friends, romance began to blossom. They started dating after about a year of knowing each other and their relationship was quickly picked up on by the British media. Below you can see a photo of the happy couple on their graduation day at St Andrews.
After dating for five years, the couple broke up in April 2007, though they continued to be friends and later that year they reunited. Ever since then there has been speculation of an engagement as they have grown closer and closer together.
Finally on the 16th November 2010 it was announced that they were engaged after 8 years of courtship. William revealed that he proposed whilst they were on holiday in Kenya in October 2010 and that he used the engagement ring of his late mother- Princess Diana. He has since said that this was his way of “keeping her close to all the fun and excitement”.
On the announcement of the engagement, the Queen said she was “absolutely delighted”, whilst David Cameron said it marked “a great day for our country”. Meanwhile the bride to be, who may one day be Queen of England, quite simply admitted that marrying royalty is a “daunting prospect but I hope to take it in my stride”.
After the announcement, the couple had the world’s media focused on them as details of the wedding were gradually revealed. Click here to see the story so far in a nice visual way.
The Wedding Schedule
The wedding took place on April 29th and the couple had the whole world watching them take their vows. It was on a Friday and the day was declared a bank holiday in Britain to allow people to come and show their support for William and Kate.
To make sure everything ran smoothly, there was a tight schedule for the day:
10.30am: Getting to the Church: The couple went on separate routes, with Kate starting at her hotel- the Goring, whilst Prince William started at Clarence House, his official residence. Kate then travelled by car to Westminster Abbey (left) where they married.
11am: The Ceremony: The ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey in London. The start time in England of 11am was the equivalent of the following times from around the world: 4 a.m. in Los Angeles, 6 a.m. in New York, 12 noon in Paris, 2 p.m. in Abu Dhabi, 6 p.m. in Hong Kong and 8 p.m. in Sydney.
The ceremony was looked after by three of the highest reverends in Britain. The Dean of Westminster conducted the service, before the Archbishop of Canterbury married the couple and then the Bishop of London gave a final address. Overall the ceremony lasted for about an hour.
12pm: The Royal Procession: After the ceremony finished the newly married couple left Westminster Abbey and travelled back to Buckingham Palace. This was a chance for the public to celebrate the marriage and the route was filled with thousands of well-wishers.
In a horse drawn carriage, William and Kate followed a route that took them past Parliament Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade and The Mall. The video below takes you on a virtual tour of the route they travelled.
12.30pm: The Reception: When the couple finally arrived at Buckingham Palace they followed tradition and made a public appearance on the palace’s balcony for the crowds to cheer them. After this they joined the reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth.
They were joined by a select several hundred friends and family who followed them from the service.
6pm: Dinner: After four and a half hours of mingling most of the guests left the palace. However, the closest friends and family of the couple stayed for a private dinner hosted by Prince Charles. This was followed (in true wedding tradition) by dancing late in to the night.
1,900 people managed to get an exclusive invite to the most prestigious wedding of the year, ranging from foreign royalty, to British celebrities, to child hood friends of the couple. Of this 1,900, only about 650 were invited to the reception afterwards and then only 300 of them stayed for dinner in the evening.
The Front Row
William chose his younger brother, Prince Harry, to be his best man, whilst Kate went for her sister Pippa to be her maid of honour. Other important people seated in the front pews during the service included the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Kate’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton and her brother James.
Important Government Members
More than 200 members of the British government, parliament, diplomatic corps and armed forces were invited to the service, as well as 60 presidents and Prime Ministers of other Commonwealth countries. London Mayor Boris Johnson (right) was of course attending.
There were also about 40 members of foreign royalty, which gave the service a very special feel. However, there were some very well known international heads of state who didn’t make the list, including President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Prime Minister, and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
There were a number of very well known celebs invited to the service who had met Prince William at some point. The list included David (left) and Victoria Beckham who attended after David worked with William as part of England’s effort to host the 2018 football World Cup.
Other celebs included Sir Elton John who famously sang at Princess Diana’s funeral, and actress Joanna Lumley who is now well known for her charity work.
Prince William has always been involved with a number of different charities, many of which were represented at the wedding. About 80 representatives attended from charities such as the homeless organisation Centrepoint, wildlife conservation group Tusk Trust and the Royal Marsden Hospital.
A number of the general public who had met the Prince over the years were also present at the service, including people who have been homeless and soldiers injured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
What Happened Next?
After the weeding, William and Kate took the unusual step of delaying their honeymoon. For an unknown reason it was announced that the couple would be spending at least the first few weeks of their married life in the UK.
However, two days after the wedding, they left London to go to the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, a holding large and secluded enough to ensure privacy and much needed rest.
The destination of their honeymoon is currently unknown, but rumours are rife. Prince William gave a hint that he might wish to bring his bride to the hidden Great Barrier Reef location when he visited Australia last month to attend a function in Cairns, just 150 miles north of the island. The IBTimes captured William saying: “I will have to come back. Maybe we’ll have a honeymoon in Cairns?”
The Married Life
Following the honeymoon, the couple will return to live in North Wales, where the Prince must attend to his Royal Air Force duties. The couple is no stranger to the community, as Kate often spent time with the Prince at his home, shopping for groceries in Blaenau Ffestiniog and enjoying the peace of the location.
With regards to Kate Middleton’s career, she quit her job at her parents’ business in the months prior to the wedding in order to throw herself full-time into her wedding planning. The details of the responsibilities that await her are unknown. Where the couple will live after the Prince finishes his training in 2013 is another mystery, though rumors point to Buckingham, St. James’ or Kensington Palace as possible residences.
Royal Wedding Souvenirs
Ever since the wedding was announced hundreds of companies created thousands of souvenirs to cash in on the hype. These souvenirs range from the ridiculous to the slightly less rediculous, but really you've got to get at least one thing! Below are a select few.
Royal Wedding Tea Towel
The classic souvenir. It's cheap, it has a lovely picture of the couple and it will last for years. What's not to like?
China Tea Set
There is nothing more English than a tea set and so it is the perfect way to remember the wedding. It is called the 'Royal Crest Royal Wedding' collection no less.
Royal Wedding Top Trumps
Top Trumps is a great card game. The royal wedding is a great event. If you merge the two, nothing can go wrong. Compare the guests against one another based on style and fame.
Replica of Kate's Ring
Get as close as it is possible to feel like Kate Middleton by wearing a replica of her engagement ring. The makers claim that "Your friends will be convinced you're an heir to the British crown". We're not so sure, but it looks pretty.
William and Kate images courtesy of the Middleton Family, 2011