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Ten years ago today, a blushing and beautiful Kate Middleton swept serenely down the aisle of a hushed Westminster Abbey to marry her waiting prince.
And after being shaken by recent sad events, Kate and William reaching their milestone anniversary gives the royal family some cause for cheer.
The prince’s grandfather, the late Duke of Edinburgh, believed passionately in both family and the sanctity of marriage, and would have been delighted to see them toast a decade as man and wife.
Former royal editor Duncan Larcombe, one of the 1,900 guests at the 2011 ceremony, recalls the special day…
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He tells OK!: “I saw William arrive and I really could feel his nerves. He was as pale as a ghost, fiddling with his uniform.
“Best man Harry whisked him off to a side room right next to me for about 10 minutes. It really was the brothers at their very best – I don’t think William could have got through it without Harry.
“Harry had a huge smile on his face. In an affectionate way, he loved the fact that his brother was petrified. When they left the side room, William had complete tunnel vision and didn’t speak to anybody except the Queen.
“We had all been frisked and had our bags checked before taking our seats. Everywhere you turned, there were security personnel, with others dressed discreetly in top hats and tails to fit in. The first 100 people in line to the throne were in that building, so security was vital.
“There was an expectation that you wouldn’t leave your seat, not even to visit the toilet! I had Chelsy Davy [Harry’s on-off girlfriend at the time] sat near me, David Cameron, Tony Blair and the Sultan of Brunei.
“Nobody was interested in each other though. It was all about William and Kate. Even the Queen must have felt strange not being the centre of attention. After Her Majesty took her seat, it went totally silent. We listened to the cheers outside as Kate arrived. It still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up thinking about it.”
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Even though royal brides traditionally wear their hair up, Kate refused to comply. She wanted a “wavy and loose” look but diplomatically compromised with a half-up, half-down style.
For the evening reception, when she switched to the looser look she preferred, William helped hairstylist Richard Ward carry a 500-year-old antique mirror to show Kate what the back of her head looked like. “He took one end and I’ve got the other and we’re shuffling along with this mirror. He’s great,” said Richard.
Kate did her own make-up, having taken lessons from her make-up artist Arabella Preston, the co-founder of Votary skincare.
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An unexpected extra kiss
The crowds expected to see a first kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony – and were then thrilled when William satisfied their chant of “kiss her again” by spontaneously leaning in for a second.
William’s goddaughter, Grace van Cutsem, who was one of their flower girls, looked unimpressed. However, it was the din of the bystanders’ cheers that caused the three-year-old to look so grumpy as she clamped her hands over her ears!
The Duchess of Sussex wasn’t the first royal bride to face wedding tiara issues! Kate’s initial choice of headwear was a rather untraditional flower crown – but she settled on wearing the Cartier Halo Tiara with her Alexander McQueen gown. Made up of 739 brilliant-cut diamonds and 149 baguette diamonds, it was on loan from the Queen – who was gifted it on her 18th birthday.
The junior bridesmaids and flower girls did wear flower crowns, modelled on the one Kate’s mum Carole wore as a bride in 1981.
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Best man and fall guy
William spent his last night as a single man with brother Harry at Clarence House. But first, the pair enjoyed a drink at the nearby Goring Hotel.
It’s reported that when Harry finally left at 3am, he jumped off one of the balconies and hurt his ankle, leaving him limping at the wedding. William only got half an hour of sleep – but due to nerves rather than partying.
Charles on song
Prince Charles selected the music for the service, later explaining: “I love trying to organise some interesting, I hope, pieces of music for certain occasions… particularly for weddings. I know my eldest son was quite understanding and was perfectly happy for me to suggest a few pieces for their wedding. I hope that gave some people pleasure.”
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X Factor guaranteed
The X Factor stage manager Diccon Ramsay managed the big day’s production and gave Kate the signal to walk down the aisle. There were cameras discreetly placed around the cathedral, while the bright lights installed meant William and Harry wore built-in sweat guards to avoid unsightly patches in their armpits.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds travelled to Buckingham Palace in the State Landau, which had transported Charles and Diana following their 1981 wedding. According to a lip reader, the Queen disagreed with the choice, telling the Duke of Edinburgh: “I wanted them to take the smaller carriage.” However, she also remarked that the wedding “was excellent”.
During the ride, William could be seen telling Kate: “I hope I remember… It’s mad, it’s mad! Oh my goodness, it’s really loud here – these people are clapping.” Turning to his new wife, he said, “You look happy.”
Signs of their times
The Queen hosted a lunchtime buffet reception at the palace for 600, where table names referred to places of significance to the couple, including “St Andrews” – in honour of where they met.
A cheeky speech
Guests were treated to some memorable speeches. Best man Harry’s on-off girlfriend at the time, Chelsy Davy, reportedly made him cut a line about Kate’s “killer legs” to avoid embarrassment.
The speech was a hit, with Kate even shedding a tear. Wearing a fez, Harry told guests William didn’t have “a romantic bone in his body” until he met Kate and did an impression of him calling his new wife “Babykins”. Charles said in his speech that Kate was William’s soulmate.
Trying on a new coat
The Middletons were granted a family coat of arms featuring three acorn springs, to represent Kate and her two siblings. It appears on the diamond earrings that parents Carole and Michael gave Kate to wear on her big day. She was spotted in them most recently at a 2019 Easter Service.
Blood, sweat & tiers
There were two wedding cakes – a traditional fruitcake that cost £57,000 and William’s personally requested chocolate cake. Kate’s Alexander McQueen dresses cost £310,000, while floristry costs came in just under £1 million and included the English field maples lining the aisle, which were replanted at Prince Charles’ holiday home in Wales. However, the majority of the budget went on the day’s huge security operation, which came in at £27 million.
After the reception, the couple headed to nearby Clarence House in an Aston Martin the Queen had given Prince Charles for his 21st birthday. It was decorated with balloons, ribbons and a “JU5T WED” registration plate. But their drive didn’t get off to the best start as William forgot to release the handbrake!
Channelling Sandy and Danny from Grease
Kate wore a second Alexander McQueen dress for the evening event for 300 hosted by Charles at the palace – where she and William danced to Grease classic You’re The One That I Want.
“Everyone was cheering, whooping, and they did a bow to each other,” said one guest. “After that, the dance floor filled up and the party got going properly.”
Their official first dance, to Ellie Goulding’s live rendition of Elton John’s Your Song, only lasted 30 seconds, with William reportedly asking her to switch to a faster number.
William kept Kate in the dark about the honeymoon, surprising her with two weeks in the Seychelles. They broke tradition by staying at Buckingham Palace on their wedding night rather than heading straight off on the romantic break. The couple left the palace the next day but the honeymoon was delayed until 9 May due to William’s work as a search and rescue pilot.
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