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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 17:30 GMT
Sir Elton celebrates his big day
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News entertainment reporter

Sir Elton John and David Furnish

Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish have become one of the first gay couples in England and Wales to "tie the knot" in a civil partnership ceremony.

The "wedding" of Sir Elton and Mr Furnish attracted hundreds of fans and onlookers to the streets of Windsor on Wednesday.

A cold and wet winter morning failed to dampen the spirits of the handful of fans who turned up early to bag the best positions.

At first the banks of press, photographers and police outnumbered well-wishers, but soon they were matched by the swelling numbers of fans and curious Christmas shoppers.

After all, Sir Elton and Mr Furnish were the second-biggest draw to the Guildhall this year after Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles married at the same venue in April.

As crowds grew impatient for the couple to arrive, even those passing the scene got into the spirit.

SIR ELTON'S 'WEDDING'
Supporters of Sir Elton John and David Furnish turn out for their civil ceremony.

Bus passengers travelling between the throng of press photographers and cameramen looked on bemused, or waved regally at the crowds.

One couple soaked up the cheers when they passed along Windsor High Street on a motorised leopard-skin sofa.

It helped keep the crowd in good spirits as police kept a keen, but friendly, eye on them.

Elton John flowers
Flowers were delivered to the Guildhall earlier in the morning

The excitement grew as the clock ticked towards 11 o'clock. White lilies had been delivered earlier in the morning and speculation about what the notoriously flamboyant Sir Elton would be wearing was rife.

Other questions about just who would attend were answered when Sir Elton's stepfather and mother arrived with Mr Furnish's parents.

Guests also included the couple's dog Arthur, escorted by artist Sam Taylor-Wood and her art dealer husband Jay Jopling.

All was revealed when the couple themselves emerged from the black Rolls-Royce which had brought them the short distance from their home in Old Windsor.

Stylish and sober

Elton John press
Press from around the world gathered outside the venue

Their matching stylish, sober and very traditional morning suits - with Sir Elton in a light-coloured tie, Mr Furnish in black - were accentuated only by a diamond brooch on Sir Elton's lapel.

Fans cheered as Sir Elton paused outside the Guildhall doors to wave and blow kisses to waiting well-wishers, many of whom had been keeping their spirits up with a rendition of his 1970 hit Your Song.

Andrea Lever, a fan of 35 years' standing, said: "I came all the way from Torquay for this. I would have just been fed up if I hadn't. I thought it was well worth the effort."

"It was a big day for him - the biggest of his life - and I wanted to share it."

We told him they both looked amazing and gave our congratulations. It was lovely
Philippa Marshall

And soon it was all over.

Sir Elton and Mr Furnish's 11-year partnership was sealed after just 30 minutes and the happy couple re-emerged arm-in-arm in bright sunshine.

Guests threw rice and the couple made their way down the steps to pose for photographs and wave to the crowds once more.

Wedding cake

The only people to break through the police cordon were two women dressed in tiaras and feather boas who handed the happy couple a wedding cake.

Sir Elton John, Philippa Marshall and Lisa Dale
Philippa Marshall and Lisa Dale received a kiss from Sir Elton

Philippa Marshall, from New Zealand, said the apple ice cream cake - dubbed Applely Ever After - had been made especially for them.

She told the BBC News website: "I couldn't believe it. David seemed to see us and he nudged Elton who beckoned us over.

"He said, 'what is this?' We told him what it was and he just put his hand to his heart and said, 'Oh, I'm so touched. Thanks so much'.

"We told him they both looked amazing and gave our congratulations. It was lovely."

Just minutes after the ceremony ended, the "newly-weds" were whisked away for a quiet meal, followed by a celebrity reception in the grounds of their mansion.

There will be many civil partnership ceremonies in the months and years to come - but Sir Elton's big day will be a hard act to follow.


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