Saturday, April 30, 2011

Catherine Middleton and Prince William`s wedding

Catherine Middleton and Prince William`s wedding

Two tiny, softly-spoken words cut the pin-drop silence of a dumbstruck Westminster Abbey and sent cheers ringing from Whitehall to Bucklebury to Papua New Guinea: ‘I will.’

And with that, Catherine Middleton went from ‘Miss’ to future Queen Consort of 16 nations spanning nearly seven billion acres and a large part of the Earth’s surface.
At her side was the young man with, perhaps, a greater burden of expectation than anyone alive. And now, he no longer carries it alone.
With his own no-nonsense ‘I will’, Prince William opened a new royal epoch, happily reuniting the Monarchy with those powerful memories of his late mother, all of it in front of half the planet.
Prior to this moment, the most-watched event in British history – perhaps in world history – had been her funeral here 14 years before. How many billions were watching now over supper in Sydney or breakfast in Ottawa; how many eyes prickling, throats tightening as that bravest of adolescent mourners now returned as the happiest man in the land?
The sense of a turning tide was as inescapable as Low Water on the Anglesey shoreline.

In the annals of our 1000-year-old Monarchy, this was a very good day. In the annals of the House of Windsor (created: 1917), it was a very great one.
Now that the mystery of the bride’s wedding dress designer has been solved, speculation is focused on where the royal couple will spend their honeymoon, due to start today.
Sources have privately confirmed the obvious: William and Kate will holiday ‘somewhere hot and sunny’ where they can ‘relax completely and privately’ for two weeks.
Mustique is the odds-on favourite for their romantic getaway. Kate’s family visit the private Caribbean island regularly, and she and William have spent several romantic breaks snorkelling, jetskiing and sunning themselves there.
Another favoured destination is a nostalgic but relatively public sight-seeing tour of Jordan, where Kate lived as a toddler. King Abdullah II is rumoured to have offered the use of his lavish private summer palace in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.

But a brief sojourn at a UK destination has not been ruled out. A few days in Balmoral, Scotland, would follow in the footsteps of William’s father, who spent both his honeymoons there.
Another mooted destination is Kenya, where William proposed. He has often said his heart is in Africa and he also spent his gap year in Kenya. Tanzania, the Seychelles, Australia, or a cruise have also been suggested as likely choices.
The Royal Family has acquired a new recruit capable of great grace and poise under the most extreme pressure imaginable. What’s a garden party – or even a State Opening – after that 318ft walk to the Abbey altar?
What is a plaque-unveiling or a state visit after getting ‘William Arthur Philip Louis’ crystal clear, unquavering and in the right order?

Prince William, likewise, showed supreme unflappability as he gently fought with an obstreperous band of Welsh gold, as he proudly steered his future Queen into the daylight before a dazzled world already running out of superlatives.
Lip-reading viewers may have spotted what happened next. ‘Are you happy?’ asked the new Duchess of Cambridge as they climbed into the State Landau. ‘It was amazing, amazing,’ replied the Duke. ‘I am so proud you’re my wife.’
The most striking aspect of the whole occasion was the simplest of the lot: the sight of two people so confident and comfortable with each other that you can already hear them finishing each other’s sentences. They were even doing it on the Palace balcony. ‘Are you ready?’ asked Prince William. ‘Okay, let’s …’ She finished that one with a kiss.

Westminster Abbey began the day with the flavour of a rather grand country wedding – lots of intergalactic hats, handsome chaps in uniform and exuberant flowers, all capped by several maples and hornbeams from the Highgrove garden. Trees in the Abbey? ‘Unheard of’, said one orderly. Yet also inspired.
Guests gaily tested the patience of the Abbey ushers as they kept leaping out of their seats to ‘Mwa-Mwa’ or shake hands with an old chum from the Army or St Andrews or a royal charity.
At one point, there was aisle gridlock. I spotted Earl Spencer trying to lead a trio of young Spencer belles through a yacking standstill, his path blocked by people shaking hands with the film director, Guy Ritchie, and the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Marquess of Cholmondeley. Progressing through the throng beneath a blue 45-degree Philip Treacy hat was It-girl and royal chum, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, escorted by her novelist sister, Santa, and historian brother-in-law, Simon Sebag-Montefiore.
Morning coats were the general order of the day, regardless of an invitation offering a ‘lounge suit’ option. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, declared that he had rented his from Moss Bros – suggesting that he must have lost or outgrown the tails he wore for five years at Eton.

David Beckham had embellished his traditional wedding kit with a wing-collared shirt and his OBE, despite the dress code specifically advising against decorations for civilian guests. He was wearing it on the wrong side, too. Few seemed to notice. All eyes were on Mrs Beckham, not his gong.
I found myself seated deep in Middleton country, just behind Michael Middleton’s proud cousin, Cambridge geo-physicist, Penny Barton. She was delighted by news of the new Dukedom of Cambridge. ‘Maybe, William will be the next Chancellor of Cambridge University,’ she suggested. Prince Philip’s retirement does, indeed, create a vacancy.

Less relaxed were the official guests, all those ambassadors and Governors-General and Cabinet Ministers knowing that they must be on best behaviour lest a camera spot an injudicious yawn.
I spotted a very chuffed-looking Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, one of the Queen’s 16 realms (the one which includes royal Mustique). Could this be the same ‘Comrade Ralph’ who staged a referendum on abolishing the Monarchy just 18 months ago? It was just as well he lost the vote, then, or he would not have had the call-up yesterday.

For pictures see URL below.

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