Friday, April 29, 2011
Prince William of Wales, the second in line to the British throne, and Kate Middleton will today be married at Westminster Abbey in London. Thousands of people are expected to line the streets of the city as the couple travel through the capital to the Abbey, and then back to Buckingham Palace, and millions are thought to be planning to watch the event on television around the world. Wikinews will be following the royal wedding as it happens on this live blog; you will be able to contact us with your thoughts throughout the day on the comments page, on our Twitter page, or on Facebook.
- Update: 6:25 A.M. (UTC)
Good morning and welcome to live updates of the royal wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton. Wikinews will be following the events throughout the day and you can contact us with your opinions as the wedding progresses either on our website, or on Twitter or Facebook. The wedding service will begin later this morning, and William and Kate's family will be in attendance at the Abbey. After the service the royal couple will travel to Buckingham Palace for the wedding reception, and the bride, groom, and both their families including Elizabeth II, will appear on the balcony.
- 600,000 people are expected to be in London today to celebrate the marriage, and it is thought many millions will watch it around the world on television. Several hundred people have been camping along the route the couple will take in a hope of seeing the newlyweds. 1,900 people have been invited to attend the ceremony inside the Abbey, including 50 foreign state heads. Kate yesterday took part in a final rehearsal with the best man, Prince Harry, and the pageboys and bridesmaids, yesterday, which William did not attend. William and Kate last night said in a message in the wedding programme that they had been "incredibly moved" by the support for their marriage. The message said,
- "We are both so delighted that you are able to join us in celebrating what we hope will be one of the happiest days of our lives. The affection shown to us by so many people during our engagement has been incredibly moving, and has touched us both deeply. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone most sincerely for their kindness."
- Rail companies have said they expect 400,000 people to travel to the capital by train this morning, but insist they will be able to handle the significantly increased passenger numbers. Thousands of international journalists have also come to London, and will be reporting from specially constructed news studios around the capital. Police officials at Scotland Yard raided numerous properties—occupied, it was reported, by squatters—yesterday because of the wedding, but MPs seized on the raids as "disproportionate". The weather in London is expected to begin as cloudy and dry, and brighten throughout the morning. Forecasters have warned of a 30 percent risk of rain at the time when William and Kate leave the Abbey after the ceremony, and an even greater risk of heavy showers towards the end of the day.
- Update: 6:40 A.M. (UTC)
One of the biggest questions around the Abbey right now is what dress Kate will be wearing. It'll only be revealed when she leaves her hotel near Buckingham Palace later this morning—9:51 UTC to be precise—but there have already been some interesting developments. British newspaper The Telegraph has reports that a woman, disguised by a large headpiece, jumped out of her car and into the hotel yesterday evening—their are suspicions she might be the designer. She was apparently wearing several clothes favoured by Sarah Burton, the late Alexander McQueen's creative director. During the ceremony, Kate will pledge to "love, comfort, honour and keep" her husband, but not to "obey" him.
- Counterterrorism police are reportedly now carrying out their final checks before the festivities get underway. Three people were arrested in Brockley, London, last night over allegations they were planning to behead effigies on the streets of London today. A guillotine was allegedly seized in a raid; the suspects remain in custody this morning. The Metropolitan Police said they had been detained on "suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and breach of the peace". A spokesperson for the force said they were believed to be "planning to attend the royal wedding."
- Update: 7:10 A.M. (UTC)
We're just getting some breaking news from Buckingham Palace. After the wedding, William will be given the titles Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus; Kate will become the Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus.
- Update: 7:50 A.M. (UTC)
Crowds are continuing to gather in London as the guests begin to arrive at the Abbey, and television images are now coming from inside the building in Westminister for the first time since it was transformed for the wedding. A red carpet now runs from the entrance to the alter and it is lined with field maple trees—it is understood Kate wanted to link the service with nature.
- For a bit of background, here's the story so far. William was educated at Eton, and Kate at Marlborough College, during which time Princess Diana—William's mother—was killed in a car crash in Paris, while William was aged 15. The couple met at University of St Andrews, and moved in with each other in a flat on a quiet street. In 2004, the pair were pictured skiing in Switzerland, before their first kiss in public two years later. But in 2007, the couple split—William began training as an Army officer and it was thought the pressures of royal life began to strain the pair. "It's a surprise, because it had seemed very stable and very steady," BBC journalist Nicholas Witchell reported at the time. But several months later, they were back together again.
- Last year, William was posted as a search and rescue helicopter pilot in Anglesey, Wales, and Kate joined him on the island, before their engagement was announced in November. "We are both very, very happy," William said, and Middleton said marriage into the Royal Family was a "daunting prospect," but, she added, "hopefully I'll take it in my stride." And today, they are to be married. The preparations have been continuing for weeks, and the armed forces have been practicing maneuvers they will be performing on London's streets this morning, as is shown in the images below.
The armed forces prepare for the royal wedding in London.
Image: John Pannell.
The armed forces prepare for the royal wedding in London.
Image: John Pannell.
The armed forces prepare for the royal wedding in London
. Image: John Pannell.
- Update: 9:00 A.M. (UTC)
1,900 guests will be in the Abbey for the ceremony today, including Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron, along with other senior British politicians including William Hague, Nick Clegg, and George Osborne. The opposition leader Ed Miliband has also been invited. Senior defence officials, representatives from 50 countries—including Denmark, Greece, Malaysia, Spain, Abu Dhabi, Australia and New Zealand—have also been invited. Celebrities including David Beckham and Victoria Beckham, Rowan Atkinson, Ian Thorpe and Gareth Thomas, will also be in attendance.
- But not all those who were invited are going to be attending the wedding. The Syrian ambassador's invitation was withdrawn this week as the government in the country continues to crack down on a popular uprising, and many protesters are reported to have been killed by official forces. Sami Khiyami said he was "embarrassed" by the decision but understood it. He said the withdrawal of the invite would not damage relations between Britain and Syria. "I find it a bit embarrassing but I don’t consider it a matter that would jeopardise any ongoing relations and discussions with the British government," he said. "If it wasn’t for the importance of the event I wouldn’t have thought of it."
- The Bahraini crown prince voluntarily declined his invitation to the wedding earlier this week amid criticism over the government's crackdown on protesters in the country. Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa said he had reached his "considered decision" with "deep regret". Human rights groups had demanded he not attend the event after government forces killed scores of demonstrators. "The invitations are a massive misjudgement by the monarch," one human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, said. "They show the Queen is out of touch with the humanitarian values of modern, liberal Britain. She's putting royalty before human rights. The guest list displays a shocking insensitivity to the suffering of people who have been persecuted."
- Update: 9:30 A.M. (UTC)
William, accompanied by Prince Harry, has arrived at Westminster Abbey flanked by police guards. They were driven from Clarence House to the Abbey in Westminster to cheers from the crowds lining the route, many of whom were waving the Union Flag. William, dressed in the red uniform of Colonel in the Irish Guards arrived at the venue for the ceremony to the tolling of the bells in celebration. The Middleton family—not including the bride—are now on their way to the Abbey in a car escorted by a police motorcycle guard. Carole Middleton, the bride's mother, is reported to be wearing a sky blue dress designed by Catherine Walker. Members of the royal family are now travelling from Buckingham Palace in minivans, which are now heading up the Pall Mall towards the Abbey.
- Update: 9:50 A.M. (UTC)
Elizabeth II, dressed in yellow, is now being driven to the Abbey to cheers from the crowds lining the streets. Kate Middleton is expected to leave her hotel in London in a few minutes. In some news just coming through the wires, Wikinews understands a suspicious vehicle has been found near the hotel where Kate is preparing for the wedding. Hundreds of members of the public were evacuated from the area and the road was closed. One police officer said: "We think the car might contain a bomb". We'll have more on this as we get it.
- Update: 10:07 A.M. (UTC)
Kate Middleton has arrived at Westminster Abbey in a dress which we are now able to confirm was designed by Sarah Burton. She is now walking down the aisle, hand-in-hand with her father, followed closely by the bridesmaids and pageboys. William and Harry are stood at the front.
- Update: 10:20 A.M. (UTC)
William and Kate are now saying their wedding vows. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, asked if anyone knew of any lawful reason why they should not be married, and there was silence. Kate lifted her wedding veil as she reached the altar; according to one report William told her: "You look beautiful."
- Update: 10:23 A.M. (UTC)
The Archbishop pronounces them man and wife.
- Update: 10:33 A.M. (UTC)
The choir is now singing a piece composed especially for this wedding by John Rutter. Kate's brother, James Middleton, has just given a reading in a clear, strong voice. "Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly," he read. During the reading William and Kate continued to smile at one and other.
- Update: 10:53 A.M. (UTC)
The ceremony is continuing, and the congregation are now singing "Jerusalem". After an address from the Bishop of London, the choir sung a piece by Paul Mealor, who has said the piece was inspired by "the sixth century Christian hymn that was normally sung at the service for the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday." They then read the Lord's prayer.
- Update: 11:10 A.M. (UTC)
Having signed the legal documents which confirm their marriage, the couple walk up the aisle, hand-in-hand, and outside to the open-topped carriage which will take them to Buckingham Palace.
- Update: 11:17 A.M. (UTC)
Escorted by members of the household cavalry, the newlyweds travel through the streets of London on the 1902 State Landau. The crowds cheer a and wave the Union Flag as the couple pass down Whitehall. Despite fears, the rain appears to have held off and the day remains sunny.
- Update: 11:29 A.M. (UTC)
William and Kate have arrived at Buckingham Palace where they will have official photographs taken before they emerge onto the balcony in approximately one hour.
- Update: 11:44 A.M. (UTC)
A journalist who was inside the Abbey as the wedding took place has described the service as "very joyous". He said,
- "It went extremely well, lots of colour and scarlet uniforms and a spirited service from the Bishop of London. The thing that struck me was the change in the life of Kate Middleton and her parents. Some of her expressions during the services seem to show she knew this, the nervousness. There was a great sense of relief afterwards."
File photograph of Buckingham Palace
, where the royal couple are preparing for an appearance on the balcony.
- Update: 12:23 P.M. (UTC)
Thousands of people are now heading down the Pall Mall for Buckingham Palace, where Kate and William will emerge onto the balcony in about five minutes.
- Update: 12:28 P.M. (UTC)
William and Kate step onto the famous balcony for the first time as a married couple to a crowd of thousands—and make the famous kiss. They are followed by Elizabeth II, and other members of the royal family and the Middleton family, onto the balcony. Down below, the onlookers wave Union Flags and cheer the newlyweds.
- Update: 12:49 P.M. (UTC)
A Lancaster bomber, flanked by a Hawker Hurricane and a Supermarine Spitfire, have flown over Buckingham Palace in a tribute to the Battle of Britain. They were quickly followed by two Eurofighter Typhoon fighters and two Panavia Tornado.
- Update: 01:02 P.M. (UTC)
Kate's dress was one of the most anticipated parts of the wedding, and everyone watching was kept in the dark until the last minute. As she stepped from the car and into the Abbey, it was announced that the designer was Sarah Burton, who worked as the creative director for the late Alexander McQueen. In a statement this afternoon, she said,
- "It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. It was such an incredible honour to be asked, and I am so proud of what we and the Alexander McQueen team have created. I am delighted that the dress represents the best of British craftsmanship."
- Burton had continuously denied that she was the dress designer—until today. It was made at Hampton Court, and as Kate travelled from her hotel to the Abbey, the dress attracted much criticism, and it has already been praised by fashion designers. Burton added:
- "Catherine looked absolutely stunning today, and the team at Alexander McQueen are very proud of what we have created. The dress was just one component of a spectacular day, and I do not think it is appropriate to comment any further beyond saying that I personally am very grateful and honoured to have been given the opportunity to work on this project."
- Update: 01:30 P.M. (UTC)
Elizabeth II is now hosting a lunch reception at Buckingham Palace, where 10,000 canapes will be served alongside the wedding cake—which has been kept just as secret as the dress. It has now emerged it is made up of 17 individual fruit cakes, which form eight tiers. Decorated with white icing and cream, it boasts more than 900 individually iced flowers. Guests have also begun to describe the wedding. "Like everybody in England I wish them all the very best," said George Tupou V, the king of Tonga, who was in the Abbey during the ceremony. "I think this wedding marks a page in England's ancient and distinguished history. It's a glorious day for England, I think."
Crowds gather to watch the royal wedding. Image: Aurelien Guichard.
- Update: 02:07 P.M. (UTC)
We now have a bit more on that bomb threat near the hotel where Kate was staying. Police initially cordoned off an area near the hotel after finding a suspicious vehicle, and a hundreds of people—from members of the public to journalists and photographers—were evacuated. "Clear the area immediately for your own safety," police officers shouted at the crowd. Two minutes after the area was cordoned off the dog squad arrived. One police source confirmed there were fears the vehicle, a blue Volkswagen estate, was a car bomb. Ten minutes later, officers removed the blockades, and allowed people back into the area. There's been no word yet from the Metropolitan Police as to what happened, and whether the car posed any threat to the public. We'll bring you any official statement as soon as we get it.
- Paddy Harverson, the official spokesperson for the royal couple, has said that although the two will appear in public over the next few months, Kate will need to adjust to life in the family. "Prince William is taking the lead on this and he has said that he wants Catherine to be given the time and space to grow into the role," he said. Meanwhile, the mood seems to be dampening on the Pall Mall—which, it turns out—might not have been the best place to see the kiss on the balcony. Much of the crowd appears to blame it on police crowd control tactics, who put up barriers in poorly chosen locations. "We might as well see it in a pub," said one woman. "We'll just have to imbibe the atmosphere."
- Update: 03:00 P.M. (UTC)
William and Kate have left Buckingham Palace in an old Aston Martin, with the numberplate JU5T WED. William—is unexpectedly driving himself and his new wife—with no security staff in the vehicle. As the car left the gates for Clarence House, just down the road, a Royal Air Force Sea King helicopter—similar to the aircraft William flies as his job as a search and rescue pilot—flew overhead. The Metropolitan Police are now estimating as many as one million people were in London today to see the wedding procession.
- Update: 03:29 P.M. (UTC)
There's been some intense debate on the comments page over why the wedding should be such a major event. One reader said they would "never understand the world's obsession with these affairs" when armed forces servicemen and servicewomen were "dying around the globe, and we are all swooning over some tart's dress." One commenter said British taxpayers should not be forced to pay for the "lavish" event:
- "Hundreds of thousands of people flocking to London today? That should help prop up the British economy... maybe that would offset the costs of such an unnecessarily lavish event?"
- Another reader said the coverage had gone too far. "Don't get me wrong," they said, "I understand that the wedding of any head-of-state (or equivalent) will make the news, but this week long non-stop coverage is simply insane." If you have something to say about the wedding, please do get in touch and join the debate on the comments page, or on our Twitter page or Facebook.
- Update: 04:04 P.M. (UTC)
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has given his thoughts on the ceremony, which he attended with his wife Samantha. Singing the hymn "Jerusalem", he said, it felt like "the roof was going to lift off—there's no greater country and better place to be than right here, right now". He added, "Although it was a grand occasion, that was a family wedding moment. It was incredibly intimate and moving."
- Update: 04:26 P.M. (UTC)
A man was detained earlier under the terrorism act today and then later released without charge after being spotted by police taking what one report described as "suspicious photographs" on Whitehall. It is understood he was taking photographs of police officers and transport locations, and was subsequently arrested. Two horses of the cavalry also went awry today after their riders fell off. Although one of the horses returned to its trailer at the cavalry base, the other ran wild before being stopped by a police officer. Meanwhile, we've managed to get a photograph of William and Kate standing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, flanked by the royal family on the right and Kate's family on the left.
The royal family stand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace
, with Kate Middleton and Prince William—newly married—at the center. Image: Magnus D.
- Update: 05:45 P.M. (UTC)
Approximately 300 close family and friends of the newlywed royal couple will be arriving at Buckingham Palace later this evening for a private party. For the members of the public partying and celebrating across the country, they can keep on going for three days because Monday is the May day bank holiday. Meanwhile, a verger has been caught cartwheeling down the aisle at Westminster Abbey after the guests had left; a spokesperson for the Abbey told reporters he would not be getting into any trouble, and said he "was very pleased the service had gone according to plan, and was expressing his exuberance".
- That's it for our coverage of the celebrations today. Thanks to all those who joined the debate on our comments page; it looks like the debate over monarchic societies may continue for a while yet. To all those who followed our coverage today, we also thank you. Goodnight.