Royal Wedding: Sights And Sounds Of A Historic Day

Steve Inskeep talks about the highlights of Friday's wedding ceremony for Prince William and Kate Middleton, then hears from NPR's David Greene in St. James Park and Philip Reeves in London, who monitored the day's events.

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INSKEEP: Some sounds of this morning's wedding ceremony for Prince William and Kate Middleton. William and Kate left Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace in an open horse-drawn carriage. They went through the streets past crowds, then appeared on a palace balcony where they kissed to the delight of the crowd below. And they watched as a bomber and two fighter planes from World War II flew overhead.

(Soundbite of airplane flyover)

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

INSKEEP: Not sure if they were cheering for the planes there or for the kiss; plenty of cheers for both. NPR's David Greene is on the streets of London. Hello again, David.

DAVID GREENE: Hello there, Steve.

INSKEEP: So what have you seen today? What stays in your mind?

GREENE: Well, that World War II bomber; we're told it was a Lancaster aircraft, was pretty impressive, I have to say. It flew very low over St. James' park, where I'm standing right now. It was just so low it sort of filled the sky and people were very impressed. And that was sort of the exclamation point on what's been a very festive day. You know, people were standing along the street here. The route were that carriage carrying the royal couple traveled to Buckingham Palace - people were waiting for that moment. They cheered as the couple went by. Then they rushed over as close as they could possibly get to the palace to see the balcony kiss that you just mentioned. And then the flyover. Now we've gotten the announcements over these intercoms: There will be no more balcony appearances, it's time to disperse.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: Keep up, you know, keep up...

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

May I break in here to mention one thing? They kissed twice and this is important. The crowd didn't like the first kiss. It was too quick and perfunctory and they cried out, kiss, kiss, another, and they finally kissed a second time.

INSKEEP: You know, oddly...

GREENE: They should've had a dress rehearsal, I guess.

INSKEEP: Maybe there was a dress rehearsal...

MONTAGNE: They've been rehearsing for eight years.

GREENE: Apparently.

INSKEEP: Oddly enough, David Greene, when I kissed my wife at our wedding, it only seemed like a bomber was flying overhead, so it's nice they actually got to have that experience.

GREENE: I hope she's listening.

INSKEEP: Now how did people participate on the streets other than kind of being dissatisfied with the first kiss? What kind of partying, celebration do you see out there?

GREENE: It was, you know, what struck me it was really impressive. They felt like they were part of this ceremony. I mean, Westminster Abbey was so closed off, the guest list was over, you know, it was only something like nineteen hundred people. But the thousands of people out here on St. James' park and along the streets were listening to the ceremony. It was being piped in; a lot of the sounds that you just played across the park. So it was this big royal picnic in appearance but then, you know, people were taking part as they sipped wine and ate sandwiches in this very majestic wedding. So, it was sort of surreal but people felt a part of it.

INSKEEP: Sandwiches, those British little tea sandwiches with the white bread?

GREENE: Yeah, tea sandwiches and, you know, some grocery store sandwiches, bottles of champagne, tea. Whatever people could pick up, you know, at five in the morning when they were stopping at convenience stores on the way here.

INSKEEP: OK, David, why don't you stay with us because we're another voice into the conversation here. Renee, go ahead.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, this would be Philip Reeves, our own Philip Reeves is in London. He's been monitoring all this morning's events and let's just take a few to just look back on exactly how everything went.

Good morning, Phil.

PHILIP REEVES: Good morning. And before we go any further, I need to tell you the British don't eat those little white sandwiches with the crust cut off, with cucumbers in them anymore.

(Soundbite of laughter)

REEVES: They, that's all.

MONTAGNE: ...had. That's who you...

REEVES: They finally figured out that...

GREENE: I saw them, Phil. I saw them.

REEVES: (unintelligible)

MONTAGNE: Although they were saying things like, you know, pip-pip and stuff like that. I was seeing.

INSKEEP: Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. David Greene says he saw them in the crowd. Were those the American tourists tried to act like British, British people? Is that who they were?

REEVES: Unless those - there's a piece...

GREENE: OK, that's possible.

REEVES: ...of at least cucumber in the middle, then, you know, it doesn't qualify for one of those terrible sandwiches that I remember being sold in Britain 30 years ago when Charles and Di got married. But I'm not sure they ate them anymore. Anyway, on we go.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: OK, so wait, now Phil, let's look back. Striking images. What stays with you?

REEVES: Oh, I have been struck by four or five things. Actually, one of the images that I like most was the arrival of Prince William and his brother, Harry, in the Abbey before the wedding began. There was something very close about them and something quite mischievous about Harry as he walked down the aisle and William also greeting and smiling and meeting his friends. And then, of course, the moment actually at the altar when they went through their lines. And he seemed to me to be protective, intimate. I think it makes a big difference that this couple's been together for eight years. They know one another and they obviously love one another. And that, amazingly, came across in the ceremony.

MONTAGNE: You know, of course, this is a moment for history because it is in fact, you know, the prince and heir to the throne eventually. But Kate Middleton wore the sort of thing that all brides do; old, something old, something new. Tell us about the something old. That was here tiara.

REEVES: Yeah. That was lent to her. Using that - something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue - by the queen. And it was originally purchased by the queen's father, King George VI for the Queen Mother. Made in 1936 and it was given the queen, Queen Elizabeth, the current queen, on her 18th birthday. And now, today, it appeared on the head of Kate Middleton; of course now to be known as the Duchess of Cambridge.

MONTAGNE: Which brings us to the fact that Kate Middleton has just married a prince, but is not yet, and may not be a princess.

REEVES: Yeah. And nor was Sarah Ferguson when she married Prince Andrew, or indeed, Sophie when she married Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex now. You know, there is a whole load of arcane protocol that surround these matters and it is within the dispensation of the queen, I think, to bestow the title of princess upon it. I frankly don't know the inner workings of the protocol that's being crafted over hundreds of years surrounding this institution. But I would suspect that you need to be first in line for the monarchy before you qualify.

MONTAGNE: And just briefly, Phil, the role that they will likely play from now on...

REEVES: Well, they want to live quietly for a couple of years. William has his career with the RAF. He seems to take that extremely seriously. He's a search and rescue pilot. And thereafter they will begin public service. And, you know, make no mistake, being a monarch in this country is hard work. They do an awful lot of public duty all around the countryside every day.

MONTAGNE: Phil, thanks very much. And thank you also, David. Philip Reeves, NPR's David Greene. Both of them speaking to us from London. They've been following the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, known really to everyone as Kate.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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