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On April 29, 2011, the world watched as Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot at Westminster Abbey in London, England. Walking down the aisle surrounded by 1,900 guests, Kate, 29 at the time, and William, then 28, declared their love for each other a decade after meeting while studying at the University of St Andrews.
Seven years later, the royals are parents to Prince George, 4, Princess Charlotte, 2, and a newborn son, who arrived Monday, April 23. As they celebrate their anniversary -- three weeks before William’s younger brother Prince Harry weds actress Meghan Markle -- ET takes a look back at their lavish nuptials.
English designer Sarah Burton, from esteemed label Alexander McQueen, scored the gig of a lifetime designing Kate’s stunning gown. The dress, which is believed to have a cost a whopping $434,000, featured long lace sleeves and a bodice featuring intricate floral needlework, while the lower portion was made to resemble an opening flower, with layers of silk tulle visible as Kate’s sister and maid of honor, Pippa Middleton, held up the 9-foot train. Subtle padding was sewn into the hip area, and a blue ribbon was hidden inside for good luck. For her “something borrowed,” Kate donned a Cartier halo tiara embedded with almost 1,000 diamonds loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth II, who received the dazzling headpiece for her 18th birthday. Middleton’s diamond earrings featured acorns and oak leaves, in a nod to her family crest, and were a wedding gift from her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton. She later changed into a strapless white satin gown, also by Burton for Alexander McQueen, for the reception.
William arrived wearing a bright red Irish Guards uniform, with brother Prince Harry by his side. With the ceremony taking place on the cusp of summer and countless bright lights inside the venue, the dashing groom had his outfit custom-made by tailors Kashket and Partners, who inserted sweat pads under his arms and heat-absorbing material to help the prince keep his cool. The material reportedly had real gold spun into it. Harry, who served as best man, also wore a military uniform that had a secret wedding ring pocket sewn into the cuff.
Among the stars attending the wedding were Victoria Beckham and soccer star husband David Beckham, who worked with William on England’s failed bid for the 2018 World Cup and remained friends. The former Spice Girl, who was pregnant with her daughter, Harper, at the time, donned a simple, short-sleeved navy frock, which she designed herself, while top hat-clutching David looked like a dashing prince himself in a Ralph Lauren Purple Label morning coat, striped pants, waistcoat and white shirt. The couple are also expected to attend Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Other notable names included musician Sir Elton John with husband David Furnish, singer Joss Stone and directors Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn.
THE BUTT SHOT Pippa Middleton inadvertently stole the show before the ceremony kicked off! In a figure-hugging gown designed by Burton for Alexander McQueen, the brunette beauty’s sexy curves became the center of countless headlines around the globe and remained a hot topic long after the wedding -- even inspiring a “Pippa butt lift” plastic surgery craze. “It was completely unexpected,’ she told Today in 2014 about the “embarrassing” attention she received. “The plan was not for it to be a significant dress, really just to blend in with the train. I suppose it’s flattering. It’s actually still in my wardrobe at home. It’s the sort of thing that I’m sure I’ll bring out if someone wanted to see it or my children one day want to see it. It’s tucked away.”
The two tied the knot at Westminster Abbey, which was also the location of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 1947 nuptials. (William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, married at St. Paul’s Cathedral.) In an attempt to bring a country vibe to their big day, more than four tons of foliage and eight 20-foot maple and hornbeam trees were brought in to help create an avenue of lush greenery for Kate to walk down in her ivory satin heels. Some of the trees were later planted at Charles’ holiday homes in Wales.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, married the pair, who exchanged vows from the Book of Common Prayer, with one twist -- just like William’s late mom, Princess Diana, they omitted promising to “obey” each other. Gazing into each other’s eyes, both grinning as they recited the words, William then slipped an 18-carat ring made of Welsh gold onto Kate’s finger.
The couple opted for a traditional fruit cake with white icing and sugar flowers, made by Leicestershire company Fiona Cairns Ltd. Towering eight tiers high, each layer was said to be wrapped in brandy-soaked cheesecloth for a period of time before the big day. Kate requested that the edible flowers represented the four nations of the U.K. -- roses for England, thistles for Scotland, daffodils for Wales, and shamrocks for Ireland, as well as the Sweet William flower in honor of her groom. William reportedly had a second cake made, requiring 1,700 Rich Tea biscuits and almost 40 pounds of dark chocolate for a mixture that was frozen instead of baked.
An incredible 1 million royal followers gathered on The Mall, and when the time came, a line of cops slowly led them down to the gates of Buckingham Palace to catch a glimpse of the pair as husband and wife. Many members of the crowd sported red, white and blue for the occasion.
THE BALCONY KISS
In a real-life fairytale sequence, the newlyweds traveled by a 1902 State Landau carriage -- the same carriage that escorted Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their special day in 1981 -- to Buckingham Palace, then treated well-wishers to a sweet kiss on the balcony. Most eyes were then on the sky for a Royal Air Force flyover in honor of the newlyweds, but the noise was a bit too much for 3-year-old flower girl Grace van Cutsem, who almost stole the show as she adorably tried to cover her ears and drown out the commotion.
THE FAMILY PHOTO
The couple’s loved ones came together for their first family portrait, and no one looked as happy as Prince Harry, who pulled a giant, cheerful grin in the pic! In the front row, from left to right, was Grace van Cutsem, Eliza Lopes, the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II, Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Lady Louise Windsor and William Lowther-Pinkerton. In the back row, from left to right, stood Tom Pettifer, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Harry, William, Kate, Michael Middleton, Carole Middleton, James Middleton and Pippa.
The pair bid farewell to their loyal followers and cruised into their new life in Prince Charles’ royal blue Aston Martin, which was adorned with red and silver heart balloons, ribbons and a rear license plate reading, “JU5T WED.”