LONDON: The fairytale wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton captured the imagination of the world Friday, with millions sharing in the celebration of the royal nuptials at parties across the globe.
An estimated two billion people were expected to have watched on TV when William and Kate exchange vows at Westminster Abbey, and even in the home to the Hollywood stars royal glamour shined strong.
“We have movie stars, but they’re not as good,” said Paula Haifley, 30, as she arrived at the Cat and Fiddle British pub on Sunset Boulevard.
Decked out with Union Jack flags and cut-out Kate and Wills models at the entrance, some 300 royal party-goers packed into the bar for the all-night bash to watch the wedding service that started at 3:00 am in LA.
“We came to celebrate. It gave us the opportunity to dress like girls, and celebrate the pomp and circumstance that we don’t necessarily get over here,” said Katie Christiansen, 24.
On nearby Hollywood Boulevard, waxwork museum Madame Tussauds set up a huge screen to show the royal wedding live, just along the road from the world-famous Graumann’s Chinese Theater.
“It’s a Cinderella story to make Hollywood drool,” Andrew Rule from London commented in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph tabloid.
“Today the world will see the wedding that proves that fairytales can, and do, happen,” he wrote in the newspaper which reserved its first five pages for the wedding.
The red carpet and floral decorations were in place at the Westminster Abbey venue as Britons across the country prepared to toast the occasion with champagne breakfasts and around 6,000 street parties.
Over a quarter of the world’s population was expected to watch the moment Kate became a princess after William placed the wedding ring on her finger in the church which held the funeral for his late mother Diana.
On the eve of the wedding, thousands of campers had transformed The Mall, the wide boulevard leading to Buckingham Palace, into a multicoloured sea of flags and eccentric headgear as they prepared to cheer on the newly weds.
Some of them were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of William when he made an impromptu evening visit to shake hands with well-wishers, before retiring to spend his last night as a single man with his family.
The 28-year-old prince was heard telling his fans: “All I’ve got to do is get the lines right”.
Campers trying to get a good night’s sleep were rudely awoken in Friday’s early hours as fireworks lit up London’s night sky.
The first glimpse the waiting world will have of the bride, and her much-talked about gown, will be at around 11:00 am (1000 GMT) when she steps out of the Rolls-Royce Phantom car which will transport her to the abbey.
The Order of Service revealed that Kate will not promise to obey her husband in her marriage vows, following in the footsteps of Diana, who later divorced William’s father Prince Charles and died in a Paris car crash in 1997.
William will be dressed in the world-famous scarlet colours of the British army, but will not be wearing a wedding ring at any point in the service in keeping with his grandfather Prince Philip’s preference.
Kate’s wedding ring was fashioned by Welsh jewellers Wartski from a piece of Welsh gold given to Prince William by his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II.
“Happiest days of our lives”
Earlier, the pair said they had been “incredibly moved” by the affection shown to them since they announced their engagement in November.
In a message in their official wedding programme, William and Kate thanked “everyone most sincerely for their kindness” as they prepare for “one of the happiest days of our lives”.
Inside the church — which has been decorated with English Field Maple trees and plants including blossoms, azaleas and rhododendron — will be an eclectic mix of dignitaries, celebrities and politicians.
Around 40 foreign royals were expected to be in attendance along with footballer David Beckham, singer Elton John and Prime Minister David Cameron.
In a diplomatic row that threatened to overshadow the good mood, Britain abruptly withdrew the Syrian ambassador’s invitation, saying the regime’s crackdown on protesters made it unacceptable for him to attend.
Kate, 29, spent her last night as a commoner at the upmarket Goring Hotel, close to Buckingham Palace.
Earlier, a woman sporting a distinctive belt often worn by Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton was seen entering the hotel, fuelling wedding dress rumours.
Later Thursday, Camilla and Charles attended a reception along with the queen being given for British and foreign royals attending the wedding at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in central London.
As final security checks were carried out, police said they had arrested 20 people across London after warning they would act to prevent anyone causing trouble during the wedding.