The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Save the boos, God saves big day

Windsor, April 9 (Reuters): Britain's Prince Charles finally married the love of his life today in a humble town hall ceremony that was a far cry from his fairytale cathedral wedding to the ill-fated Princess Diana.

After their tumultuous 35-year affair, Camilla Parker Bowles has gone from 'commoner' to being the second most senior woman in the royal family, next to Queen Elizabeth.

Thousands of royalists cheered as the newly-weds emerged arm-in-arm to a chilly breeze in the riverside town of Windsor, west of London, before heading off in a Rolls-Royce for the nearby family castle.

'Thank you very much,' Charles, 56, mouthed to the crowd as his 57-year-old bride beamed beside him. There was no public kiss, however, to mirror the famous Charles and Diana moment on the balcony of Buckingham Palace almost 25 years ago.

The queen, as titular head of the Church of England, declined to attend the civil ceremony but was present at a service of blessing in the 1,000-year-old Windsor Castle.

In St. George's Chapel, the middle-aged divorcees knelt together to acknowledge their 'manifold sins and wickedness' and to pledge to 'forsake all others'.

The heir-to-the-throne will be hoping the British, many of whom still revere Diana's memory, will learn to accept Camilla, who will be known as Duchess of Cornwall.

It was a different story 69 years ago when another Prince of Wales had to give up the throne to marry the woman he loved. Charles's great-uncle, Edward, set off a constitutional crisis in 1936 involving the royal family, the government and the Church of England by insisting on marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson. He abdicated and ended up living in France.

In a sign of the changing moral face of Britain, the royal family, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, were all present at the Windsor Castle service of blessing.

The couple held their first walkabout in public after the service and were rewarded with cheers from the crowd.

Fashion experts were full of praise for mother-of-two Camilla, who wore an ivory silk coat over a chiffon dress for the ceremony, then a porcelain blue outfit for the blessing.

There were some boos, however, from a small group of protesters on the street holding a banner saying 'Illegal, Immoral, Shameful'.

The sight of coachloads of royals turning up at the town hall while a high school jazz band played Congratulations did raise a few eyebrows in the crowd. 'This feels more like a backyard barbecue than a royal wedding,' said Vincent Jenkins. 'It's all so cheap,' said Jo Davies.

Polls show wide public opposition to a future Queen Camilla ' blamed by many for Charles's split with Diana ' but there appeared plenty of goodwill towards the couple today.

Despite a lively atmosphere and some 20,000 people 'a fraction of the 600,000 who lined the streets of London 24 years ago ' coming to Windsor, there was none of the national frenzy which surrounded Charles's marriage to Diana in St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981.

Charles's elder son, Prince William, acted as witness at the ceremony with Camilla's son, Tom.

A reception for 800 guests ranging from American comedienne Joan Rivers to TV host David Frost followed the ceremonies. Mumbai's dabbawallahs Raghunath Medge and Sopan Mare also made it to the reception, all expenses paid by the royals. Then Charles and Camilla set off for Scotland for their honeymoon.

Camilla's first husband, Andrew, also joined the celebrations.

Charles and Camilla will be relieved to have the ceremony over after their wedding plans had appeared jinxed.

First the venue had to be switched to the town hall in a blunder over licensing ' it was originally meant to take place behind the castle walls. And at the last minute, the ceremony had to be postponed a day to avoid clashing with Pope John Paul's funeral.

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