Within the Abbey, we waited. From the seat in the South Transept from where I have witnessed so many great royal occasions that it has become known as "the Talbot pew", I watched Kate Middleton's last few steps as a commoner.
The very picture of radiance, she made her way up the aisle on the red carpet, woven, as is traditional, by the wives and children of the Gurkhas.
The dress, subject of more column inches than the riots in Syria or the war in Libya (how shabby those events suddenly seemed!), was, as I had predicted months ago, a gorgeous ensemble designed by royal favourite Sarah Burton. Ignoring requests from the Archbishop of Canterbury to avoid the white associated with marital purity, the mind-of-her-own royal bride had gone for a stylish yet modern look, not so very different from those worn by other brides at more modest ceremonies.
At the altar, her prince was waiting. Ever solicitous, he murmured as she stood by his side, "Are you all right?" With the understated calm for which she is already well known, Kate replied with a simple, eloquent "Yes".
So it was that a very British occasion, full of pomp and grandeur but also at its heart the union of two young people very much in love, reached its moment of resolution.
Only those close to the Palace were aware that the previous few hours had not been without problems. A deputation of Oxford dons, hearing that the young couple were to be given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, had sent an email complaining of a "gratuitous snub" to the city of dreaming spires. There had been last-minute negotiations as to where Princess Michael of Kent should sit. Camilla, whose anger management courses have made such a difference to her personality over recent weeks, had insisted that her ex-husband Andrew should not sit near Princess Anne, with whom he has recently become close.
Prince Philip, said to be suffering from what is known as Royal Tourette's Syndrome, was kept away from foreign dignitaries, but was heard to be muttering a running commentary throughout the service, complaining about the Archbishop of Canterbury ("Might have trimmed his hair and eyebrows, looks like a bloody social worker"), the Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice ("Here come Bill and Ben, the Flower-Pot Men"), and Prince Harry ("Why does he walk like a bow-legged sailor?"). The majority of celebrity guests behaved well, although attempts by Elton John and David Furnish to bring their new baby Zachary are said to have caused "serious friction" among wedding organisers.
Fears that the bride, who has asked to be known as "Princess Kate", would be afflicted by her allergy to horses while riding later in the horse-drawn carriage, proved to be ill-founded. Although her eyes watered briefly, she concealed the fact with the professionalism which has won the admiration of royal insiders. Her decorous dab to the eye looked to the world like a moment of emotion.
The Palace wedding committee has always said that it was not the ceremony at Westminster Abbey which would pose problems so much as the "wedding breakfast" for 600 guests and what Prince Harry has called "the family thrash" during the evening. These worries proved to be unfounded. The photographic session in the Throne Room went impeccably, and few noticed that the cameraman circulating throughout the afternoon was none other than Prince Edward, who plans to launch a career as a director with a series of YouTube clips he is calling "royalty-vérité".
It would be indiscreet to reveal details of the best man Prince Harry's speech, beyond his memorably witty opening line, "You guys have just played an absolute blinder!" Quite what happened when the two problem uncles, Prince Andrew and Gary "Sniff" Goldsmith, withdrew to another room for a private conference must remain confidential.
Court correspondents have been asked to respect the privacy of the young couple, but I can reveal that the bride is said to have made a "very special" purchase from the upmarket lingerie specialists Agent Provocateur for her first night as a royal wife. No surprise then that Wills and Kate retired early from the evening's festivities!
It was a day to remember. Like the glittering Cartier tiara on the head of Princess Kate, the sparkling affection between two very special royal lovebirds has illuminated the nation and the world.Reuse content