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InsightRoyal WeddingsThe Cambridges

Royal Wedding Rewind: The Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The Royal Wedding 2011

Prince William married his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011. Today, let’s take a look back at the ceremony and the couple.

Prince William, the oldest son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was born 21 June 1982 in London. His future bride, Catherine Middleton, was born 9 January 1982 to Carole and Michael Middleton, in Reading.

William and Kate met at St. Andrew’s University during their first year as students, but their relationship began in 2003. They dated quietly for several years in Scotland, living with roommates, and studying art history (Kate) and geography (William, who’d initially enrolled in the art history program). The couple’s relationship was unconfirmed for several years, but Kate was pictured on a ski trip with William and his family, and photos soon spread back to England. After their graduation, they continued to date, and Kate made her first high-profile appearance as William’s girlfriend when she attended his passing out parade at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 2006.

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William began his military career in the Royal Air Force shortly thereafter while Kate worked in London for Jigsaw and Party Pieces, her parents’ party-planning company. The couple briefly broke up in 2007 but reconciled in the summer following the Concert for Diana.

William began working in Anglesey, Wales, in the Search and Rescue Training Unit at RAF Valley in 2010, and Kate lived with him. The couple became engaged on a trip to Kenya in the fall of that year, with William proposing to Kate with his late mother’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring. Their engagement was kept secret for a few weeks, and on 16 November, it was officially announced by Prince Charles.

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On 29 April 2011, William and Kate married at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony that was watched by a global audience estimated to be 162 million on television, 72 million on live streams, and 101 million on YouTube.

Prince Harry was his older brother’s best man, while Pippa Middleton was her older sister’s maid of honour. The bridesmaids and pageboys included relatives and children of close friends: Lady Louise, Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Grace van Cutsem, Eliza Lopes, William Lowther-Pinkerton, and Tom Pettifer. Kate’s younger brother James gave a reading at the service.

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Kate wore a classic satin and lace wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen topped with the Cartier Halo Tiara that King George purchased for his wife, Queen Elizabeth, loaned by the Queen. Her bouquet included myrtle, Lily of the Valley, Sweet William and hyacinth.

In keeping with bridal traditions, Kate followed the “something old, something new” custom. The lace on her wedding dress included some older pieces, her diamond earrings were a gift from her parents, her tiara was borrowed, and her bodice had a blue ribbon sewn into it.

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Pippa caused international headlines with her maid of honour gown which had also been designed by Sarah Burton, which was also white.

William wore the uniform of the Irish Guards mounted officer to honour his appointment earlier in the year as Colonel of the Irish Guards.

The Dean of Westminster officiated the service, while the Archbishop of Canterbury acted as the celebrant, and the Bishop of London preached a sermon.

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Guests included members of the Royal Family and Spencer Family, as well as the Middleton Family. As William was – and still is – only second in line to the throne, their wedding was not a state occasion, which meant that the couple didn’t have to invite as many heads of state and governments as Prince Charles and Diana had needed to.

Virtually every Royal Family in Europe and throughout the world were represented at the wedding, and all of the Governor Generals of Commonwealth countries were invited, too. Ambassadors, government officials and religious leaders were invited alongside celebrities including David and Victoria Beckham, Sir Elton John, and Guy Ritchie.

On the morning of their wedding, The Queen announced that William and Kate would receive the titles of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Strathearn, and Baron and Baroness Carrickfergus.

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The couple returned to Anglesey while William worked as a search and rescue pilot, and supported The Queen. They made Kensington Palace their London base and were gifted Anmer Hall at Sandringham by The Queen. In 2017, following the retirement of Prince Philip, the couple announced that they would return to London permanently to take up a more active role as full-time royals.

William remains dedicated to conservation, homelessness, and mental health awareness, while Kate focuses on mental health initiatives for mothers and young people, addiction issues, and the arts. Together, they have undertaken several tours on behalf of the Commonwealth, including two trips to Canada, and trips to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, India, Bhutan, France, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Norway.

Today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are full-time royals based at Kensington Palace and are parents to seven-year-old Prince George, five-year-old Princess Charlotte, and three-year-old Prince Louis.

Royal Central has a new anthology all about royal weddings available now. You can buy it on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.