One million jubilant well-wishers lined the streets of London as Prince William and Kate Middleton were married in an historic ceremony.
The bride put months of speculation about her dress to an end as she emerged wearing a stunning ivory creation by Alexander McQueen’s British designer Sarah Burton.
As the flag-waving crowds cheered, Kate turned twice and smiled before she was escorted by her father Michael Middleton into Westminster Abbey.
Mr Middleton had tears in his eyes as he walked his daughter – hand in hand – down the aisle to Prince William, who was waiting at the altar with his brother, Prince Harry. Both were wearing full military uniform.
The princess-to-be clutched a bouquet of cream flowers, looking elegant in the classy design of delicate lace and appliqué floral detail.
Made with a white satin gazar, it had white satin gazar arches and pleats and a skirt which resembles “an opening flower”.
The designer of the dress had been kept a closely guarded secret as Kate wanted to surprise William on the big day.
Pippa Middleton escorted the other bridesmaids, the Hon Margarita Armstrong-Jones, eight, Grace van Custem, three, Lady Windsor, seven and Eliza Lopes, three.
Pippa, Kate’s 27-year-old sister, looked radiant in a gown by British designer Alice Temperley, while the younger bridesmaids all wore Nick Macfarlane full sashes dresses. All were in white.
In front of her entourage, Kate made the three-minute walk along the aisle – as two billion people tuned in from around the world to watch the commoner become royalty in this fairytale wedding.
As she approached her prince, William can be seen whispering to his bride, “You look beautiful” as she smiled, looking radiant.
Kate was also wearing a ‘halo’ tiara, made by Cartier in 1936, and loaned to her by William’s grandmother, the Queen.
Royals, politicians and celebrities sung along to the first hymn, Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer, before the historic ceremony begun.
The happy couple, both 29, exchanged wedding vows to each other while being watched by 2000 friends, family and dignitaries.
Wearing the red tunic of an Irish Guards colonel, Prince William and Kate repeated their vows – opting to leave out ‘obey’ and instead promising to “love, comfort, honour and keep”.
William’s mother Princess Diana famously decided not to include ‘obey’ in her vows to Prince Charles back in 1981.
However, William then appeared to have a little trouble slipping the ring on to Kate’s finger, but the rest of the ceremony was flawless.
The Archbishop of Canterbury then declared: “I pronounce that they be man and wife.”
The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, read a prayer penned by William and Kate in his address.
The newlyweds asked for spiritual help to maintain focus on the things that mattered, and to be ‘generous’ with their ‘time and love and energy’.
The bishop, who has close links to the groom and his family, told the congregation: “I pray that everyone present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today will do everything in their power to support and uphold you in your new life.”
At the end of the service, the congregation sang the National Anthem. The Queen was the only person in the abbey not singing.
William and Kate – who have been given the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – then went off with their witnesses to sign the historic marriage registers away from public view in the tiny enclosed Chapel of St Edward the Confessor behind the altar.
Kate left behind her commoner roots for the official titles of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince William has also become the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.
Up to one million people lined the streets of London as the festivities kicked off at 8.15am when the first guests arrived.
On The Mall crowds waved flags and cheered when the Band of the Coldstream Guards marched down toward the Duke of York Steps.
Playing hits such as Barry Manilow’s Copacabana, the 44-member band got spectators moving their feet.
After the ceremony, William and Kate travelled from Westminster Abbey to the Palace in an open-topped carriage.
They sealed their marriage with two kisses on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Thousands of excited well-wishers were chanting, “We want William” along The Mall, before the happy couple appeared.
They stepped for the first time on to the balcony and waved at the crowds, who were waiting for them to kiss in what has become a royal tradition which was started by Princess Diana and Prince Charles three decades ago.
The page boys and bridesmaids were close behind, before the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, joined them along with Kate Middleton’s family.
Prince William leaned in to kiss his new bride, to the delight of the crowds, who cheered.
A Spitfire, a Hurricane and a Lancaster then assumed a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight formation, before the couple kissed for a second time – leaving Kate giggling and looking flushed, while William smiled broadly.
The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer’s kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony on July 29 1981, became one of the most enduring images in royal history.
Their break from formality and royal protocol came in direct response to clamours from the expectant crowds below.
At the time, Charles was reported to have said to Diana: ”I am not going to do that caper. They are trying to get us to kiss.”
Then she responded: ”Well, how about it?”
But as the young princess arched gracefully backwards, her veil flowing behind her in a fairytale pose, her husband appeared rather less at ease, creating a slightly stilted embrace.