Joyous crowds cheered and gaped in awe as beaming newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton rode through London in a fairytale horse-drawn carriage and kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
They then delivered two - not one - sweet, self-conscious kisses on the balcony, with William blushing deeply at the highly anticipated event. Within moments, a flyby of vintage and modern Royal Air Force planes roared overhead, not quite drowning out the roar of approval from the crowd.
Hundreds of thousands of royal fans from all walks of life and from across the planet descended on London on Friday to witness the most talked about British wedding in years.
Some wore Union Jack dresses and old-fashioned wigs to celebrate the day, others partied feverishly with painted faces and fluttering flags. Many were just happy to witness all the rare pomp and circumstance of a full-blown royal event.
Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, and his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton were declared married on Friday at a service in London's Westminster Abbey.
William, 28, and Middleton, 29 and the first "commoner" to marry a prince in close proximity to the throne in more than 350 years, exchanged vows before nearly 2,000 guests in the abbey and a television and internet audience of millions.
A congregation of some 2,000 people, including 50 heads of state as well as charity workers and war veterans who know the prince from military training gathered in the abbey, which has been the coronation site for the monarchy since William the Conqueror was crowned in 1066.
Prince William and best man Prince Harry strode into Westminster Abbey in formal military attire at about 5:20 a.m. ET (10:20 a.m. GMT), and then waited about 40 minutes for Ms. Middleton to arrive.
The Globe and Mail's Elizabeth Renzetti was the only Canadian journalist inside the Abbey, and reported via Twitter "They both look nervous, bless."
As for the Abbey, Ms. Renzetti wrote "It's a relaxed, quiet garden party atmosphere in here."
Against all odds, the sun came out as Ms. Middleton arrived at the abbey in a splendid dress by Sarah Burton, creative director of the Alexander McQueen fashion house - ending months of speculation about the identity of the designer.
The lacy white gown, with its low neckline, dramatic veil and medium length train, immediately provoked swoons of admiration.
As her "something borrowed," Middleton wore the Cartier "Halo" tiara, supplied by Queen Elizabeth II. The tiara was first purchased by the Duke of York, later King George VI, for his duchess, who later became the Queen Mother Elizabeth. It was given to the current queen by her mother on the queen's 18th birthday.
The "something new" in Middleton's ensemble were diamond earrings given to her by her parents. The earrings by Robinson Pelham were a set of stylized oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond drop and diamond acorn suspended in the centre.
She also wore the diamond and sapphire engagement ring that once belonged to William's mother Princess Diana, who was divorced from Prince Charles in 1996, a year before her death in a car crash in Paris aged just 36.
Ms. Middleton began the long walk up the aisle to the strains of Charles Parry's "I was glad."
As Globe reporter Doug Saunders noted on Twitter, as Ms. Middleton swept down the aisle with a smile that lit up TV screens around the world, a couple hundred million people got to see the dress before William did.
The iconic abbey was airy and calm, the long aisle leading to the altar lined with maple and hornbeam trees as light streamed in through the high arched windows.
Maid of honor Pippa Middleton wore a simple column dress and naturally styled hair, while best man Prince Harry was dressed in formal military attire. The flower girls, in cream dresses with full skirts and flowers in their hair, walked down hand-in-hand with Pippa.
When the future heir to the throne was joined at the altar by Ms. Middleton, the royal couple exchanged a wink, smiles and a few words.
All you lip readers out there had an advantage over the rest of us when the microphones didn't catch what he said, but British media outlets believe they have it: "We're supposed to have just a small family affair," the prince supposedly joked to his bride and father-in-law at the altar.
During the service, streamed live on the Internet, Kate did not promise to "obey" William as part of her wedding vows, and he will not wear a wedding ring. Her ring is made out of Welsh gold.
When it came time to slip the ring on her finger, Prince William seemed to struggle a little as the ring appeared a tiny bit tight.
The couple looked nervous but happy and got through their vows without stumbling before they were formally declared married by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, with the words "I pronounce that they be man and wife together."
Hundreds of thousands of people crammed the flag-lined streets of London to catch a glimpse of cavalrymen in shining ornamental breastplates, groomed horses and the ornate carriages that will carry senior royal figures from the service.
The weather co-operated when it was time for the newlyweds to ride the 1902 State Landau, an open-air horse-drawn carriage, along the royal procession route to Buckingham Palace.
The couple will now attend a lunch reception for 650 guests, followed by an evening party for 300 friends and family.
"The pictures on the mugs don't do the couple justice," said 34-year-old Madeleine Senior who flew in from Australia for the big day.
Die-hard fans camped out across the street from the abbey to ensure a front-row view of the royal couple and their guests, who start filing into at the abbey via The Great North Door from 8:15 a.m. (3:15 a.m. ET) in time for the 11 a.m. start of the service.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived to fanfare at the abbey, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrived before them, Ms. Middleton's parents appeared before them.
Soccer star David Beckham and his wife Victoria - aka Posh Spice - attended, as did Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry's on-again, off-again girlfriend, and Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe also showed up.
Elton John and Canadian husband David Furnish have arrived, and so has former British Prime Minister John Major.
Another notable guest, current British Prime Minister David Cameron has reversed his decision to wear a lounge suit (what we North Ameircans would call a "suit") and instead he has gone with tradition and worn a morning suit (what we'd call "tails").
"It's a mixture of this amazing young couple, the fact they love each other, it's also the institution, the national symbolism, the monarchy, the service of the royal family," he told BBC TV.
"It's all those things and a chance to celebrate. We are quite a reserved lot, the British, but then when we go for it, we really go for it."
Some 8,000 reporters and support staff have descended on the capital to capture the occasion in words and images, and, while some question a British government estimate of a global audience of two billion, hundreds of millions certainly tuned in.
As the bells toll across the Atlantic, a number of Canadians are swapping pyjamas for pageantry to toast the couple who have not only become the ultimate celebrities, but could also one day be an important part of how this country is governed.
Some are donning their best hats and heading to public venues for the occasion while others are gathering in their living rooms with crumpets and a cup of English tea as the festivities begin.
"The atmosphere has been truly amazing, the crowd is buzzing," Canadian Jay Edmonds told Reuters as dawn broke outside Westminster Abbey on Friday. "I managed to catch just a few hours sleep in a doorway but I don't mind.
Daniel Whaley is part of a group of 45 Canucks who travelled to London for the festivities and considers witnessing the wedding a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"This is a monumental event that will go down in history. It's also the future king and queen of Canada that are getting married," says the 19-year-old University of Winnipeg student who is also co-chairman of the Monarchist Youth League of Canada.
"It's electrifying ...you're seeing the future of a historic institution in a flash."
Mr. Whaley, who will be jostling for space along the Mall to catch a glimpse of the much anticipated first kiss, says Canadians proud of their monarchy are aplenty among the crowds.
"There are lots of Maple Leafs," he said. "I'd say Canada is one of the most well represented international countries here at the wedding."
For others, it was an event to avoid, reflecting divided public opinion about the biggest royal occasion for nearly a decade and one which supporters hope heralds a renaissance for a monarchy that, following the divorce and death of Princess Diana, had seemed at peril from calls for a British republic.
"It's just a wedding," said 25-year-old Ivan Smith. "Everyone is going mad about it. I couldn't care less."
Buckingham Palace also announced Friday the couple's much-anticipated royal monikers: They have received the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William's dukedom is one of three titles bestowed by his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II to mark his marriage to Middleton at Westminster Abbey. The titles also apply to Ms. Middleton.
William also became the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, which means Ms. Middleton is now the Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus.
Strathearn ties William and Middleton to Scotland, where the pair met and fell in love. Baron Carrickfergus is a little-used title which refers to one of the oldest towns in Northern Ireland.
Because Middleton was not born a princess, she will not officially become Princess Catherine - although the public may choose to call her that, or even "Princess Kate," in defiance of protocol.
Royal watchers called the bestowal of the title duke of Cambridge a personal mark of esteem from the queen. It refers to the history-steeped university town that is a symbol of British prestige. The dukedom's history stretches back to Medieval times and has for 300 years been associated with royalty.
The marriage between William, second in line to the throne, and girlfriend Kate, dubbed "Waity Katie" for their long courtship, has cemented a recovery in the monarchy's popularity.
A series of scandals involving senior royals, Britain's economic difficulties and Diana's death after her divorce from Prince Charles led many to question the future of an institution rooted in the imperial past.
But William's image as a more rounded, less distant figure than his father, which appears to have worked in the monarchy's favour.
In a surprise walkabout on Thursday evening, the groom reached into the crowds waiting on the Mall, the avenue leading to Buckingham Palace, shaking hands and chatting happily with delighted members of the public.
William also surprised royal watchers with the announcement that he was wearing the scarlet tunic of an Irish Guards officer. Observers had expected the groom, a highly trained helicopter rescue pilot, to wear his navy blue air force uniform.
William's choice of ceremonial military dress sends a strong signal of his support for the armed forces, reinforcing his preferred image as a dedicated military man and distancing him from past characterizations as a club-hopping party boy.
While most of the revellers were happy to flood the couple with good wishes, a few republicans gathered to protest.
"My message to the royal couple is good luck and enjoy your married life, but please don't take for granted that one day you will be king or queen," said Graham Smith of the anti-monarchist lobby group Republic.
British police arrested 18 people in London on Friday for a range of mostly minor offences as they mounted one of the biggest security operations ever seen in the capital around the royal wedding.
Around 5,000 officers were on duty to control the huge flag-waving crowds, alongside around 1,000 soldiers lining the route from Westminster Abbey to Queen Elizabeth's London residence, Buckingham Palace.
Specialist teams with sniffer dogs had patrolled the procession route searching for explosives, while helicopters buzzed overhead as part of the operation to protect William and Ms. Middleton.
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With files from Doug Saunders, Elizabeth Renzetti and The Associated Press