William and Kate begin married life together

Newlyweds William and Kate began their life together as a married couple tonight after a glittering wedding ceremony that enthralled the world.

The royal bride and groom tied the knot in a ceremony both intimate and touching that ushered in a new era for the British monarchy.

Around a million people turned out to celebrate the wedding and those who flocked to witness their Buckingham Palace balcony appearance were treated to not one, but two kisses from the couple.

In an unexpected move that delighted the crowds, William and Kate left their wedding reception in the Prince of Wales's blue Aston Martin with the groom at the wheel.

The sports car was decorated with red, white and blue ribbons, with balloons tied to the back and a rear number plate which read 'JU5T WED', all thanks to

best man Prince Harry and other family and friends.

The former Miss Middleton had started the day a commoner but by its end had become HRH the Duchess of Cambridge - as William was made a duke by the Queen this morning.

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The future king and his beautiful bride, who will now one day be Queen, had pledged their love for one another at Westminster Abbey.

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, Dr 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.

Kate wore a stunning ivory gown with lace applique floral detail designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.

A congregation of 1,900 and up to two billion people saw their vows, as they were beamed live around world.

And the service took place in the presence of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Kate's parents Carole and Michael Middleton and other guests in the abbey.

Never had the eyes of the world turned on the six children who made up Kate Middleton's troupe of bridesmaids and pageboys quite as they did today.

But despite the immense pressure and breathtaking pomp of the occasion, the infants rose to it like little professionals - melting the hearts of the viewing public in the process.

As they entered the church, all assumed the look of solemnity befitting the event and appeared to be concentrating hard on their jobs.

One of the two youngest was the new Duke of Cambridge's three-year-old goddaughter, Grace van Cutsem, of Hilborough House in Norfolk.

She and Eliza Lopes, also three, frowned seriously as they focused on getting it right on their big day.

The others, William's seven-year-old cousin Lady Louise Windsor and his second cousin Margarita Armstrong-Jones, eight, Billy Lowther-Pinkerton, 10, the son of

William's private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, and the prince's godson,

Tom Pettifer, eight, also appeared stern as they played the role they had rehearsed only yesterday at Westminster Abbey.

Despite their young ages, all six children seemed to appreciate the importance of the ceremony, frowning seriously as they stopped behind the bride when she reached the altar.

Only once the ceremony was over and they were on their way out of the church did the infants appear to relax a little - realising, perhaps, that they had performed their duties with aplomb.

Only once they took to the balcony of the palace, where William kissed his bride, did one or two of the infants become overwhelmed.

Grace covered her ears with her hands to block out the deafening cheers of the crowd below. But the others waved and smiled at the adoring public, who were won over by the children in a heartbeat.

The younger bridesmaids wore ivy and lily-of-the-valley hair wreaths, inspired by the head-dress worn by Kate's mother Carole Middleton at her wedding in

1981.

As a special memento, each of the four girls have had their name and the date of the wedding hand-embroidered on to the lining of their dresses. Echoing Kate's dress, they were made using the same fabrics.

Celebrity invitees included David and Victoria Beckham, Sir Elton John, Madonna's ex-husband Guy Ritchie, Rowan Atkinson and Joss Stone.

The wedding day became a magical public spectacle when the bride and groom left the abbey and climbed into the 1902 State Landau for a procession through the famous streets of central London.

Crowds who had been gathering since early this morning cheered and waved at the couple as they passed by in the Captain's Escort with the Household Cavalry

Mounted Regiment.

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.

On the balcony William and Kate's initial fleeting embrace, their first in public, sent the already ecstatic well-wishers wild. A second kiss brought ever-louder cheers.

During their wedding reception the couple cut the traditional wedding cake and at its end said goodbye to the Queen and Prince Philip, who will not be attending the evening dinner and dance celebration at the palace.

The intimate affair is for 300 of William and Kate's closest friends and family.