Prince William and Kate Middleton kiss on balcony of Buckingham Palace

William and Kate have stepped on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace to exchange a kiss and wave to the huge crowds.

The couple exchanged two kisses on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, to cheers and applause.

Cheering crowds had greeted royal newly-weds William and Kate as they were driven through the streets of London in an open-topped carriage today.

William and his new princess smiled and waved at well-wishers lining the route from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace after a historic fairytale ceremony.

And despite fears that rain would spoil the occasion, a shaft of sunlight fell across The Mall amid the joyous scenes as the radiant bride and her handsome prince laughed and smiled.

The future king and his beautiful bride, who will now one day be queen, pledged their love for one another in the ancient surroundings of the abbey, watched by billions across the globe.

In a stunning ivory gown with lace applique floral detail designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, Kate walked up the red carpeted aisle a commoner.

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But with her new husband at her side and a ring on her finger, the former Miss Middleton became HRH the Duchess of Cambridge - William was made a duke by the

Queen this morning.

Kate left the abbey a princess, the newest member of the royal family and a future Queen Catherine.

She was dubbed 'Waity Katie' for her patience during her long courtship with William as she waited for her prince to pop the question. Today she finally became a royal wife.

As she recited her vows, William smiled encouragingly.

The service was flawless but there was a tiny moment of drama as the prince struggled to place the ring on Kate's finger.

After the couple said their vows, in which the modern-thinking bride did not promise to obey William, the Archbishop of Canterbury 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.'

Cheers erupted down The Mall and across the country as their union was sealed in front of a congregation of 1,900, with an estimated TV audience of two billion watching around the world.

Thousands of well-wishers had flocked to the processional route, cheering heartily as Kate made her way to the abbey after leaving the Goring hotel with her father Michael at 10.51am precisely.

The Rolls-Royce arrived at 11am as the abbey bells rang out. When her father took her left hand they began their procession along the red carpet that started outside the ancient building and led inside, with her sister Pippa carrying her train.

As her young bridesmaids and pageboys assembled behind her in the nave, beneath the impressive 18th century stained glass West Window, Miss Middleton was able to take in the abbey's shimmering Waterford crystal chandeliers and vast gothic arches above her.

On her father's arm and watched by her proud mother Carole, Kate walked up the aisle as a commoner to the sounds of the coronation anthem, Parry's 'I Was Glad'.

When they arrived at the altar Prince William apparently cracked a joke to his father-in-law, according to a lip-reader, saying: 'We're supposed to have just a small family affair.'

Moments earlier, William's best man Prince Harry apparently told his brother: 'Right she is here now.'

As her groom waited, Kate moved along the red carpet, around the south side of the poppy-lined Grave of the Unknown Warrior - the only gravestone in the abbey over which it is not permitted to walk.

Behind her was her maid of honour and sister charmingly holding hands with the youngest of the bridesmaids Eliza Lopes and Grace van Cutsem, from Norfolk, - both just three-years-old.

They were followed by Lady Louise Windsor and the Hon Margarita Armstrong-Jones, and then the page boys Tom Pettifer and Billy Lowther-Pinkerton.

Walking through an 'avenue of trees', Kate processed past delighted guests seated facing inwards in the nave before moving through the intricate golden quire screen, on top of which sit the orchestra, and into the quire. In the Victorian gothic wooden stalls lined with red lamps, sat Prime Minister

David Cameron and other senior politicians and high commissioners, as well as the two choirs and their schoolboy choristers.

Here, Miss Middleton made her way to the Lantern, where she finally met William, resplendent in his dashing red military uniform, at the Sacrarium steps.

In the south transept stood William's grandparents the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, his father the Prince of Wales and stepmother the Duchess of Cornwall, and other members of the Royal Family.

In the north transept were the Middletons and many of William and Kate's close friends.

The first hymn, Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer, rose high into the nave as the choirs of the abbey and Her Majesty's Chapel Royal, St James's, led the congregation in singing.

Dean of Westminster Dr John Hall began the service with the famous words: 'Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and in the face of

this congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony...'

The cleric went on to utter the immortal lines: '...if any man can shew any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.'

William spoke in public for the first time today when he replied 'I will' in a clear and strong voice to the Archbishop of Canterbury's question about whether he would 'love, comfort, honour and keep' Kate.

His bride spoke more softly when she said 'I will' in response to the same question.

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