More than 30 years since they began their controversial romance, Prince Charles wed Camilla Parker Bowles in Windsor, England, on Saturday.
Stepping out of the town’s Guildhall at 12:53 p.m. (local time) to cheers from a crowd that had been standing outside for hours, the wedding couple headed a new royal family – complete with stepchildren.
There was no kiss before the crowd, like the one Charles had planted on Diana on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at their celebrated nuptials in 1981. But on their heels were Charles’s sons with the late Princess, Princes William and Harry.
Saturday, the young men stood with their new stepbrother and sister, Tom and Laura Parker Bowles, to wave off their parents. Observers watched as Camilla looked back at her kids and waved.
A beaming Harry, 20, who was said to be the uneasiest about his relationship with his new stepmom, was first to wave back.
Her vows said, Camilla takes the title HRH Duchess of Cornwall. The bride, 57, wearing an oyster silk basket-weave coat with herringbone stitch embroidery and a chiffon dress by designers Robinson Valentine, took her place next to her husband in the backseat of a vintage Rolls Royce.
Charles decorated his Anderson and Shepherd morning suit with a hellebore flower picked from his garden at Highgrove. Princes William and Harry wore tiepin heirlooms that once belonged to the Queen Mother and were given to them by their grandmother, the Queen (who skipped the ceremony but attended the formal blessing afterward with Prince Philip).
The couple had arrived for the brief service at 12:26 p.m. as “Congratulations” was played by a jazz band from the Windsor Boys School. Pulling up along Park Street to cheers, Charles sat beside his bride-to-be waving at the crowds lining the sidewalks. There were heartfelt cheers when they made their way under the columns of the historic 17th-century hall.
Minutes earlier, two coaches had brought Camilla’s family and then the royals, headed by William and Harry, who wore morning dress tailcoats. A huge cheer went up as the princes, looking tanned from their recent Swiss skiing vacation, stepped from the coach.
While they took their seats to await their father, the band hit the playful notes of “Mustang Sally.”
Later in the day, the royal couple – who will take their honeymoon at Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands, for about 10 days – saw their union blessed in a special service at St George’s Chapel, inside Windsor Castle. There they were joined by Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie, and celebrity guests including Phil Collins, Sting’s wife Trudie Styler, Joan Rivers and more.
Early in the dedication, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, the couple and the congregation made a pledge of penitence: “We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these misdoings” – said to be the version with the harshest words available to the couple.
The most poignant moment came when the couple, titled simply Charles and Camilla by the Archbishop, were asked to underline their devotion to one another. The two also had a blessing from the Queen, who beamed as she stood behind the couple on the steps of the chapel.
And while a few protestors greeted the civil ceremony, only to be whisked away by police – as was a lone streaker – fate was with the newlyweds: The arctic weather and sleet predicted for Saturday never arrived. (Though it did hit on Friday, the original wedding date until it was pre-empted by the Pope’s funeral.)
Instead, the sun shined on Windsor, and even the usually contentious Daily Mail, which has been critical of Charles recently, threw its weight behind the couple with the front-page banner headline, “The Best of Luck.”