BBC Home > BBC News > UK

A thoroughly modern royal wedding

18 May 08 00:08 GMT

By Daniela Relph
Royal correspondent, BBC News

It's the detail of a royal wedding that we seem to love.

The dress was designed by Sassi Holford in ivory duchesse satin with a lace bolero jacket and a two-metre train.

The tiara was on loan, just for the day, from Princess Anne, while the jewellery was a gift from Peter Phillips to his new bride.

Then there were the guests. There were 300 in all, 70 of whom flew over from the bride's home country of Canada.

But, by the standards of royal weddings, this couldn't have been a more low-key affair.

On the streets of Windsor many of those who turned up to watch the Changing of the Guard didn't even realise that, later in the day, the first of the younger generation of royals would marry behind the Berkshire castle's walls.

And even when they found out what was happening, many hadn't heard of either the bride or groom.

Normal background

It was a reflection of the fact that, for the past five years, this relationship has been conducted in private.

Autumn Kelly, as she was at the start of the day and who has described her background as normal, is far removed from the traditional aristocratic royal wife.

She is a management consultant brought up in a middle-class suburb of Montreal who a friend has described as "one of the boys".

The new Mrs Phillips and her now husband met when they were both working at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2003.

She says she didn't realise who he was until six weeks into their relationship, while he says there was no cause to mention his royal connection.

When describing each other, she says he's easygoing, fun and everybody likes him and he says she's stunningly good-looking with a wicked sense of humour.

And how do we all know so much about this private couple?

Because, for a reported half a million pounds, they sold their story to Hello magazine. There were 19 pages in all detailing the relationship.

Their decision to go public in this way raised eyebrows in royal circles and caused some unease.

For the wedding ceremony, though, it was almost a full complement of senior royals plus a few added extras.

The only one missing was Prince William, who we're told had a diary clash, having already committed to the wedding of an old friend in Africa.

He was instead represented by his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, a sign of the growing seriousness of that partnership.

Also there were Prince Harry and his girlfriend Chelsy Davy, who may well have got her first introduction to the Queen.

'Rapturous applause'

Should the two royal girlfriends marry their princes one day, they're likely to have more formal weddings than the one they attended on Saturday.

For this was a celebration without the pomp and ceremony of other similar occasions. Such informality was highlighted when the couple left the chapel.

With doors of St George's open, onlookers could hear that the newly-wedded couple were walking down the aisle to rapturous applause.

And when they lined up with other members of the royal family on the chapel steps, it was the younger generation that caught the attention.

Prince Harry seemed to tease his cousin, Zara Phillips, about her strapless dress that showed off her tan lines.

Also there was the more reserved Princess Eugenie, who'd given a reading during the ceremony, and her sister Princess Beatrice, with her eye-catching choice of butterfly headwear.

The wedding of Peter and Autumn Phillips was a very modern royal occasion.

Related BBC sites