It's a day that will live in history: As Big Ben struck 11:18 on the morning of April 29, 2011, Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton of Bucklebury—you might know her as Kate—became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Oprah may not have been an invited guest, but she and the audience are having a royal celebration of their own. Donning hats of all shapes and sizes is a British tradition—the new duchess herself often makes fashion statements in stunning millinery—so Oprah and the entire audience took a cue from the other side of the pond. "I've said for years we have the best-dressed audience in television, " she says. "I know I am a hat person, but I didn't know this many people had hats. You all look fantastic. ... You all look like you could be at the real wedding, the real royal wedding."
More than 2 billion people around the world tuned in to watch the royal wedding as it unfolded, from the arrival of the first guests to the two kisses on the balcony.
Journalist and personal friend of William, Tom Bradby, scored an invitation and witnessed the world-famous nuptials in person. He says the affair—which included 1,900 guests—felt very intimate. "Westminster Abbey's quite interesting," he says. "It looks very big, but actually it's got a sort of small section at the front where all their close friends and family were. So I think they looked very happy."
Despite being a grand ceremony, Tom says the atmosphere was comfortable inside Westminster Abbey. "When Kate arrived, you sort of heard the echo of the crowd, and then the doors shut and everything was hushed," he says. "I always get a bit emotional at weddings because at the end of the day, despite all the pomp and splendor, it is just about the two of them, and I think everyone here really wants it to work for them, so there was a really quite emotional sense as she came down the aisle."
One of everyone's favorite moments at a wedding is seeing the groom's face as the bride walks down the aisle, but Tom says he didn't have a good view of William as the prince saw his wife-to-be for the first time. "He didn't turn around, so obviously he was determined to keep to the tradition of looking straight ahead," Tom says. "I noticed Prince Harry, who struggles to retain his sense of humor on these occasions, had a quick glance back and had a bit of a nudge. But William stayed facing right forward until she got there."
Tom struck up a friendship with Prince William and Prince Harry years ago, when he became a royal correspondent. "They really hated the media at the time because they felt that certainly the paparazzi were directly to blame for their mother's death. They were really, really angry about that, and people around them were trying to say, 'Look, not everyone has three heads and breathes fire,'" Tom says. "So we sort of got together, started having lunch, and I think the idea was to try and convince them that not everyone was bad, and I really stuck to some quite simple principles which is that , yes, I'm a reporter. [But] you're a human being first. If they said something in confidence, I kept it in confidence, so we built a bit of a relationship that way."
Though William and Harry have perhaps grown less angry about the media in general, Tom says both men are most riled up when they feel their mother's memory is being threatened or when their loved ones are being subject to similar media treatment. "[William] is very, very protective of [Kate]. He really does have this sort of driving sense that he wants things to be different. He saw what happened to his mother and to his father. It all went horribly wrong," Tom says. "He's absolutely determined that, yes, he'll accept all this, he'll do his bit, but he's not prepared to trade that for domestic happiness."
That domestic happiness will include low-key nights like any married couple might have, Tom says. "He comes home, she cooks him dinner and they put their feet up and watch the telly," he says."That's what they do most evenings. They're very keen to continue to do that."
ABC royal correspondent India Hicks was 13 when she was a bridesmaid at Prince Charles and Diana's wedding. In 1981, she was up on the balcony with the royal party, but today she watched from the other side of the royal gates, sitting outside Buckingham Palace with the legions of onlookers. "It was the perfect modern, classic wedding," she says. "It had all the classic trimmings that we want from a British royal wedding, and yet there were some modern touches to it."
When Princess Diana got married, she was only 19 years old, India says. At 29, Kate is the oldest royal bride in history, and India says she is probably better prepared to take on the role of princess than her late mother-in-law was. "If there's anything that can be drawn from the terrible, terrible past history that we've seen, it is that William is protecting and preparing Kate," she says. "However, one says that, and the tiny little glimpse that I've had into that world???nothing, but nothing, can prepare you for that. Nothing can prepare Kate for what she has to face. The press is relentless."
Despite being Prince Charles' goddaughter, India was not invited to the wedding, but says she didn't expect to be. "My mother is there in the palace right now. I'm going to meet her afterwards for tea," she says. "I'm very close to Charles. I know Kate and William, but I'm certainly not a personal friend, and also, the space was such that it's very, very limited there."
Royal correspondent Carson Kressley spent some time in Kate Middleton's hometown of Bucklebury, an hour and a half outside London, to get the scoop on the new duchess. At the Peaches Spar convenience store in Upper Bucklebury, store owners Chan and Hash were two lucky recipients of wedding invitations. "When she came in, we sort of mentioned to her that when she does get married, please don't forget us. And she hasn't," Hash says.
Chan says Kate's favorite candies are gummy sweet treats made by Haribo.
Bucklebury's Old Boot Inn bar owner, John Haley, also made the guest list and has already planned his wedding outfit."I've got the morning suit, top hat. I've got the towels. It's fabulous," he says.
John says the royal couple stops by the Old Boot Inn when they're in town and need a drink. "It's not like cold frothy beer like you have in America. It's proper beer. Real beer," he tells Carson. "It's warm beer, but it's wonderful. It's brewed right up the road."
From the day William and Kate announced their engagement, Ali Wentworth has been gearing up to be the "Queen correspondent" on the royal assignment of a lifetime.
While moving among the thousands of happy subjects camped out along the parade route, Ali found a booming wedding souvenir industry. "They're estimating it to be over $300 million," she says. "There is nothing you can't find without William and Kate's face on it. Who doesn't like a William and Kate toilet cover?"
For 15 years, Darren McGrady was the Buckingham Palace pastry chef to Queen Elizabeth II. After Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated, Darren moved with Diana and Princes William and Harry to Kensington Palace to become their personal chef.
Though he didn't prepare anything for William and Kate's wedding, Darren says he might have influenced at least one of their decisions. "When I found out that William and Kate weren't having a chef, I sent him a copy of my book [Eating Royally] and said, 'You need this,'" he says. "In the book was the chocolate biscuit cake, and, of course, he chose it a week later. I don't know if that jogged his memory, but I used to make that for the Queen when she had afternoon tea with William and Harry growing up."
While the eyes of 2 billion viewers were glued to Kate's stunning gown and 9-foot train, Carson knows the groom has to look good too. To find out where Prince William most likely gets his clothes, Carson took a trip to London's Savile Row and the legendary military outfitter and bespoke tailor Gieves & Hawkes.
Because no guest at a royal wedding would be caught without a couture hat that turns heads, Carson's next stop on his fashion tour of London is Philip Treacy's atelier. This famous hat designer has covered the heads of all sorts of royalty, from Princess Diana to Lady Gaga.
Carson says he thinks Victoria Beckham was one of the best dressed of William and Kate's guests. "You're not supposed to be too flashy, that's kind of that whole English thing. You don't want to take it overboard," he says. "The other really weird thing that I didn't know was there's supposedly an unwritten rule that you're not allowed to wear the same color as the Queen. She was wearing yellow, and I noticed nobody else was. And I was like, does she tweet in the morning saying, 'Listen, I'm wearing buttercup'?"