In true British fashion, the day the world has been excitedly awaiting for the past six months began gray and cloudy.
Fortunately for the almost one million people who gathered in London for the wedding of Prince William, heir to the British throne and his bride, Kate Middleton, the sun made an appearance later in the day.
While a 500,000-strong crowd waited to catch a glimpse of the newlyweds and their kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony, almost 2 billion people watched the event live on TV and computer screens across the world.
They had a chance to admire in detail Kate Middleton's ivory gown, with a lace applique floral detail designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, the Queen's 1936 Cartier diamond tiara and a wedding ring made of Welsh gold.
The bride resembled a real fairy tale princess and evoked Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky's description of English women as the most beautiful in the world.
Prince William, wearing the red dress uniform of a colonel of the Irish Guards, looked stunned by his bride's beauty when Catherine finally arrived at his side after an impressive walk along the aisle with her father.
Despite numerous bets, Catherine was not late for the ceremony and did not mix up William's names.
After the couple said their vows, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, declared: "I pronounce that they be man and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
Like late Princess Diana during her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, Kate did not promise to obey her husband.
The Queen conferred on the young couple the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Earl and Countess of Strathearn and Baron and Lady of Carrickfergus.
Some 1,900 guests witnessed the historic moment, including foreign royals, MPs, diplomats and members of the armed forces.
David and Victoria Beckham, pop star Elton John and film director Guy Ritchie were among the celebrities present.
While the guests were enjoying the stylish ceremony, which cost between $50 million and $80 million, some 500,000 people gripped by the royal fever waited along the wedding route. Almost everyone was carrying Union Jack flags with the couple's portrait, which were on sale across the capital. Many people were wearing coats, T-shirts, hats and even jeans with the Union Jack pattern.
"We are proud of the monarchy," said two visitors from Brighton whose faces were painted red, blue and white.
Many people had been camped out in St. James's park drinking champagne since early morning.
"She is absolutely beautiful... The whole world is watching. Everyone is here. It's just wonderful," said a woman from Manchester, who described the day as the best in her life. "We think they will have a baby soon and he will be a boy."
About 5,000 uniformed policemen were on patrol in the City of Westminster. Scotland Yard described the security operation surrounding the royal wedding as "a huge success."
William and Kate were brought to the palace in the 1902 state landau with an open top and appeared on the balcony around 1.30 p.m. to roaring applause from the crowd gathered underneath. They were accompanied by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Harry.
In a few minutes, seven RAF planes, from World War II Spitfires to modern fighter jets, joined the roar as they flew above Buckingham Palace.
The spectacular flight marked the end of public celebrations and some 650 people joined a lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace given by the Queen. A dinner for 300 people will be held by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace later in the day.
After six months of feverish excitement, the big day was over in a flash, leaving a fairy-tale aftertaste on the jubilant crown, now making its way toward the nearest underground station and discussing the last remaining secret surrounding the big day: the location of the royal couple's honeymoon.
LONDON, April 29 (Irina Ryapolova, RIA Novosti)