LONDON — Prince William and Catherine Middleton sealed their wedding vows with a traditional kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace Friday as millions in London and around the world roared their approval.
The short peck — and a slightly longer smooch a couple of minutes later — followed a glittering service at Westminster Abbey in which the prince and the newly created Duchess of Cambridge were pronounced husband and wife.
The kisses were followed by a traditional fly-by of vintage and modern planes from Britain’s Royal Air Force.
About two hours later, the couple surprised crowds gathered outside the palace by emerging in a blue convertible Aston Martin and driving around for a few minutes. The car was decorated with a multicolored ribbon across the hood and dragged what appeared to be tin cans, a traditional British touch.
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Prince William and Kate Middleton were pronounced husband and wife at Westminster Abbey Friday in a royal occasion of dazzling pomp and pageantry.
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Royal slice, anyone? ..The couple took their vows at about 11:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m. ET) with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, officiating.
The prince, 28, dressed in the resplendent red tunic of the Irish Guards, appeared to initially struggle to get the wedding ring, made of Welsh gold, onto the elegant, tiara-bedecked Middleton’s finger.
Prince William salutes and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, bows her head, as they approach the Cenotaph, the memorial to Britain’s war dead, following their wedding in London’s Westminster Abbey.
The prince was spotted winking at his new bride — the first “commoner” to marry a prince in close proximity to the throne in more than 350 years — after they exchanged vows.
Middleton had arrived at the abbey on time at 11 a.m. and, as soon as she did, Buckingham Palace issued the long-awaited details of what she was wearing: a long-sleeved lace gown and veil, designed by Sarah Burton, creative director for Alexander McQueen.
According to the U.K.’s Press Association, Prince William told a joke at the altar before the ceremony, saying: “We were supposed to have just a small family affair.” Video: Prince William shakes off nerves with humor (on this page)
Advertise | AdChoicesThe line was spotted by Tina Lannin, lipreader for O’Malley Communications, the Press Association said. She also spotted Prince Harry, William’s best man, nervously comment “Right, she is here now,” as Middleton arrived.
An estimated million well-wishers — as well as some protesters — flooded into the areas surrounding Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and other London landmarks.
Some were up at dawn waving flags for television cameras under steely gray skies and cool temperatures.
Cheers erupted as huge television screens showing the service began broadcasting at Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park.
‘She is beautiful’
Brenda Hunt-Stevenson, a 56-year-old retired teacher from Newfoundland, Canada, said there was only one thing on her mind.
“I want to see that kiss on that balcony. That’s going to clinch it for me. I don’t care what Kate wears. She is beautiful anyway,” she said.
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 are certain to tune in.
Security was tight and as of 11 a.m. local time, police reported 18 arrests had been made for a variety of offenses including, possessing an offensive weapon, sexual assault, assault, criminal damage, a drug offense and being drunk and disorderly, NBC News reported.
The ceremony ended at about 12 noon (7 a.m. ET) and the newly wed couple traveled along street lined with even more ecstatic crowds in an open carriage.
Both smiled and waved as they made the journey, surrounded by cavalry soldiers in dress uniforms to Buckingham Palace.
Advertise | AdChoicesThe palace announced early Friday that the couple would be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Middleton will now be “Her Royal Highness” and also Princess William of Wales, but the latter title will not be used.
The second duke of Cambridge, Prince Adolphus Frederick, was the seventh son of King George III. Defying the Royal Marriage Act, he married his mistress, Sarah Louisa Fairbrother, an actress and a commoner, in 1847. Since the marriage wasn’t legal, his children were all illegitimate.
In contrast to the clamor outside, inside the abbey all was airy and calm during the service. The long aisle leading to the altar was lined with maple and hornbeam trees as light streamed in through the high arched windows.