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royal wedding Monday, 21 June, 1999, 23:18 GMT 00:18 UK
Edward and Sophie begin married life
Edward and Sophie: The Earl and Countess of Wessex
Edward and Sophie: The Earl and Countess of Wessex
The newly-wed royal couple are beginning married life together with a honeymoon at a secret location.

Royal Wedding
The Earl and Countess of Wessex left their wedding reception at Windsor just after midnight on Saturday bound for their holiday destination.

Sunday newspapers speculated that they are heading for the Caribbean or the luxury home of King Juan Carlos in Majorca.

The couple waved to the media and remaining well-wishers from their luxury car which had red heart-shaped helium balloons tied to its exhaust.

The Earl, dressed in a dark suit, and his wife - in a pale outfit - smiled and waved as they left Windsor.

Married before friends and family
Their honeymoon destination has been kept a tightly-guarded secret and most guests refused to speak as they left the reception at St George's Hall in Windsor Castle.

One did give an insight into the atmosphere at the wedding party.

"The Queen was constantly wandering through and chatting to people," she said.

"It was one of the friendliest weddings I have ever been to. It was a really friendly, family wedding."

She said she had been to the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales but said this evening was far less formal with no speeches or toasts - except to raise glasses to the bride and groom.

Earlier, the wedding was followed by millions of TV viewers across the world.

A relaxed and confident Edward winked at his radiant bride-to-be as she arrived at the altar for the last royal wedding of the millennium.

Both the prince and his wife faultlessly delivered their vows - including the bride's promise to "obey" her husband - although Edward appeared to experience some difficulty putting on Sophie's ring.

And the couple only exchanged their first kiss when they were out of sight of the congregation and television cameras, in the ambulatory of the chapel.

Cheers and applause

The royal couple beamed broadly as they were greeted on the steps of the chapel by the cheers and applause of an international crowd of well-wishers.

A procession of open-topped, horse-drawn carriages carried Edward and Sophie to the reception in the St George's Hall in Windsor Castle, past crowds of several thousand people who clapped and shouted messages of good luck.

Married before friends and family
The rain - a major concern in the morning - held off for the whole ceremony.

Edward walked to the chapel in brilliant sunshine some 20 minutes before the wedding began, accompanied by his two supporters, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew.

His bride arrived traditionally late, at a minute after 1700 BST. After a moment spent properly arranging her much-anticipated wedding dress, Sophie climbed the 22 steps to the chapel accompanied by a fanfare from the band of the Royal Marines.

Pearl necklace

The dress, by designer Samantha Shaw, consisted of a long, fitted coat with long sleeves and an ivory train, made from hand-dyed silk organza and hand-dyed silk crepe, with rows of pearls and crystal beading.

In total, 325,000 cut-glass and pearl beads went into its design.

She also wore a diamond tiara from the Queen's private collection and a pearl necklace that Edward gave her to mark the occasion. She gave the prince an 18-carat gold hunter pocket watch.

Among more than 500 guests at the wedding were members of the Royal Family, Sophie's family, friends and members of the royal household.

Princes William and Harry, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie attended, but the Duchess of York was not invited.

Champagne celebration

A lucky 8,000 members of the public received tickets to watch the procession from inside the castle grounds. Others secured their spots along the route by camping overnight.

Many opened champagne and waved Union flags as they waited for a fleeting glimpse of the wedding party.

Security measures were stepped up around the castle over fears that anti-monarchist protesters, who joined riots in London on Friday, might try to disrupt the wedding.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Edward and Sophie's vows
Video
The BBC's Lisa Holland looks back at the Royal romance
Audio
Poet Laureate Andrew Motion reads his poem in honour of the Royal Wedding
See also:

20 Jun 99 | royal wedding
19 Jun 99 | royal wedding
19 Jun 99 | royal wedding
20 Jun 99 | royal wedding
Links to more royal wedding stories are at the foot of the page.


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