The bridal couple with their four children: the Princes William and Harry, and Tom and Laura Parker Bowles
Photo: AFP
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The newlyweds pose happily before joining hundreds of guests for the reception
Photo: AFP

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11 APRIL 2005

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When the Royals gathered at St George's Chapel for the blessing of Charles and Camilla's civil wedding on Saturday, they chatted amongst themselves prior to the service in remarkably relaxed fashion, giving us a rare glimpse into the more private side of the family.

That bonhomie extended afterwards, with the Queen smiling broadly on emerging from the Chapel, and now the official wedding photos show that the long-awaited day was as much a cause for celebration as the principals involved could have wished for.

Taken in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, the shots portray a delighted bride and groom among a family thoroughly at ease with the new situation. The Queen, who'd chosen an extremely chic pale primrose outfit for the wedding of her first-born son, was again wearing a huge smile, while the bridal couple's four children all looked thrilled to be present for their parents' big day.

After the official pictures were taken, it was time to celebrate along with the hundreds of guests inside Windsor Castle. And at the reception, there was a "wonderful, happy atmosphere," reported one guest, as the champagne and jokes flowed.

In her speech, the Queen paid tender tribute to her son and his bride, saying she was proud that they had come through some terrible obstacles. "My son is home and dry with the woman he loves," she concluded.

And Camilla was moved to tears when Charles thanked "my darling Camilla, who has stood by me through thick and thin and whose precious optimism and honour have seen me through."

When it was time for the newlyweds to set out for their honeymoon in Scotland, they were seen off by a family in jubilant mood. Camilla's new relationship with them was sealed when the Queen encouraged her daughter-in-law to kiss her cheek, then returned the gesture. That significant moment was followed by kisses from Wills and Harry as the former Mrs Parker Bowles was unequivocally welcomed into the Windsor fold.