Royal wedding 2011 – a new generation introduced to the Royal Family

It’s incredible to think that 10 years have passed since Catherine Middleton walked down the aisle at Westminster Abbey to marry her Prince.

Having watched Prince William grow up, there was a sincere sense of excitement and happiness as the future King married his bride. 10 years and three children later, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have firmly cemented their status as key players within the British Royal Family.

William marries Catherine Middleton at a wedding service in Westminster Abbey on 29th April 2011

My family are firm fans of the Royal Family, and I have always had a soft spot for William and Catherine, so I was delighted when their engagement was announced. Aged 15 at the time, I distinctly remember the newly engaged couple being a popular topic of conversation at school – they definitely earned bonus points with us when we were given the day off to mark the occasion!

As many of us had never experienced a royal wedding on this scale, we didn’t really know what to expect. While I had watched events such as Trooping The Colour, I am too young to remember the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, nor have I any memories of the funerals of Princess Margaret or The Queen Mother.

I knew that we are known worldwide for our pomp and pageantry, but nothing could have prepared me for that day in April 2011. The wedding seemed to dominate the news, magazines and talk shows for months, with endless speculation: who would design Catherine’s dress? What titles would the couple be given? Who would attend the wedding? What colour would The Queen wear? Would we see a kiss on the famous Buckingham Palace balcony? It certainly provided for hours of media coverage.

The night before the wedding felt like Christmas Eve, the country full of anticipation. We watched Catherine and her family enter the Goring Hotel in London, to spend her last night as a ‘normal’ citizen. It truly seemed that wedding fever had taken over the UK, the Commonwealth and even further afield. Street parties were planned, crowds of people gathered along the procession route to catch a glimpse of the couple, and events were held across the world – some 2,000 people gathered at a party at St Andrew’s University, where the couple had met. International landmarks, including the Empire State Building, were lit up in red, white and blue to mark the occasion.

In our house, we took the day very seriously – we began watching the TV coverage at 7am, I wore special Union Flag socks and a face sticker, we had party food and cake. This was my first experience of the British royal ‘machine’ in all its glory, and it did not disappoint.

From watching guests entering Westminster Abbey, seeing who was lucky enough to receive an invitation and what they were wearing, hearing touching stories from people who knew the couple, and waiting for the first glimpse of the soon-to-be Duchess of Cambridge, there was so much to take in. Westminster Abbey, such an important location throughout English and British history, was truly a spectacular backdrop to the vibrant colours of the military and religious regalia.

Not unlike Sarah Ferguson, who chose to keep her tiara hidden until she had officially married into the Royal Family, Catherine chose to arrive at the Abbey by car, instead of in the carriage traditionally used by royal brides. She would then leave the church in the carriage alongside her new husband, marking her entry into royal life as The Duchess of Cambridge.

One of the most prominent memories I have of the day would have to be the moment Catherine stepped out of the car and we were finally able to see her wedding dress – I distinctly remember gasping when she stepped away from the car and let us see the look in all its glory. I have always been a fan of Catherine’s fashion choices (much preferring classic, vintage clothes to jeans and t-shirts) and this now iconic dress certainly ticked all the boxes. A future Queen Consort, Catherine looked every inch the royal bride, with the Sarah Burton-designed dress and Cartier Halo tiara, on loan from The Queen.

Catherine Middleton wore a Cartier piece on loan from The Queen for her wedding day

Despite being a state occasion, attended by political leaders and foreign Monarchs, the couple had still incorporated personal details which reminded those watching that this was a family occasion. Both William and Catherine were supported by their siblings as best man and maid of honour, while her brother James read the lesson. The younger members of the bridal party were all family members or the children of close friends.

Another of my favourite moments were the cheers resounding from outside the Abbey as the couple exchanged vows – it was obvious that the sound had carried inside, as both William and Catherine immediately began to smile upon hearing the crowd’s reaction.

After being treated to not one but two kisses on the Buckingham Palace balcony, we were then surprised to see the newlyweds leave Buckingham Palace in Prince Charles’s convertible Aston Martin – complete with balloons, and a JU5T WED number plate!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wave to the crowds from their carriage on The Mall on their way to Buckingham Palace in London after their wedding on 29th April 2011

Since that iconic day 10 years ago, we have seen the Cambridges grow as a couple. Now full-time working royals, William and Catherine have represented Queen Elizabeth II across the globe, both with and without their children, on memorable tours – who could forget the impression they made on Hollywood celebrities during their first tour, baby George charming Australia, or Princess Charlotte enjoying the chance to play with balloons in Canada?

Closer to home, we’ve seen some iconic moments from the couple – supporting Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, competitive baking with Mary Berry and even pouring pints.

During the recent COVID-19 lockdown, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been very visible on video calls to people all over the UK: thanking student nurses for their contributions during the pandemic, showing support for the vaccine and even playing bingo with care home residents via Zoom!

Catherine took charge of the bingo calling (@KensingtonRoyal)

Both Cambridges have developed particular fields of interest within their royal duties: William has been actively campaigning on environmental issues, for example, with the creation of the Earthshot Prize, as well as highlighting the need to discuss mental health in football.

Catherine has developed her initial interest in Early Years to raise awareness of maternal and childhood mental health, as well as her incredible ‘Hold Still’ project which encouraged the UK public to share photographs reflecting their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk their children, George, Charlotte and Louis, on the red carpet (@KensingtonRoyal)

We cheered for them outside Westminster Abbey 10 years ago, we waited outside the Lindo Wing to catch a glimpse of their three children, and now we would like to congratulate The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their 10th wedding anniversary.

We look forward to watching their continued support for Her Majesty The Queen in the coming years.

If you would like to send your best wishes, you can write to the couple.

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