On the morning of April 29, 2011, her last as a single woman, Miss Kate Middleton woke in a five-room suite at London’s exclusive Goring Hotel with mother Carole and sister Pippa. And so composed was Prince William’s fiancée on her spotlit wedding day that—thanks to a series of private lessons with makeup artist Arabella Preston—she did her own bridal makeup. “Everyone else was nervous, but not Kate,” said hairdresser Richard Ward. “She just took it all in her stride and was calming everyone else down.”
That included her father, Michael, who Kate, then 29, told not to cry in the Rolls-Royce Phantom VI that picked them up at the hotel at 10.51 AM. Exactly nine minutes later, father and daughter stepped out on the steps of Westminster Abbey to reveal Kate’s gown for the first time. The Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen custom dress was made with hand-cut English and Chantilly lace (the embroiderers washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep it pristine) and was held together by 58 organza- covered buttons. It had a 2.6m train and the veil—created at the Royal School of Needlework and crafted with hand-embroidered flowers—was held in place by a Cartier halo tiara lent by Queen Elizabeth.
Earlier, waiting for his bride at the Abbey with best man Prince Harry, William, then 28, looked nervous and excited. Vanity Fair reported his Irish Guards ceremonial dress was fitted with sweat pads due to fears the groom “might perspire or even faint.” When Kate made her entrance, Harry reassured him with a whispered, “Just wait until you see her.”
The wedding got smaller as the day went on; 650 guests were invited to a lunch reception at Buckingham Palace. “William led Kate into the room and introduced Kate as “my wife, Mrs Wales,” and everyone cheered,” reported Vanity Fair. Prince Charles said they were “really lucky to have a daughter like her.” At 1.25 PM the newlyweds emerged on the palace balcony and kissed twice, to a dramatic flyby of Tornado and Typhoon fighter jets.
At 8 PM, the 300 guests enjoyed crab, Scottish lamb and a trio of miniature puddings. MC Harry described the new Duchess of Cambridge as “like a sister,” and just before midnight led everyone to the Throne Room, transformed with mirror balls, sofas and cocktails. The newlyweds reportedly danced to Elton John’s “Your Song” performed by Ellie Goulding, and around 2.30 AM, guests headed to the courtyard for fireworks. William and Kate spent their wedding night in the Belgian Suite at Buckingham Palace, according to reports, and the next morning took off in a helicopter from the palace lawn for a short honeymoon in the Seychelles.
For more on Kate and William's 17-year-relationship and the fairytale romances of your favourite royals, pick up a copy of the WHO Collector's Edition of Greatest Royal Love Stories.