William and Kate: Fairy tale continues with newlywed carriage ride ending in royal kisses
After a ceremony that left many breathless, newlyweds Kate Middleton and Prince William -- now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- proceeded out of Westminster Abbey as man and wife on Friday morning and took their fairy-tale royal wedding to the next level.
Hand-in-hand, they stood on the famed church steps to greet a roaring, adoring public waving union jacks and crying out to the modern royals, then stepped into an open carriage -- ladies second -- lead by four immaculate white horses.
A short but jubilant ride from the Abbey ensued, with the happy pair smiling, exchanging private words and waving to the people. Their trek ended at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was to host a Champagne-and-appetizers lunchtime reception.
William assisted Kate in disembarking from the carriage, with their families close behind in cars and shuttles -- including maid of honor Pippa Middleton and the bride's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton.
Prince Charles and wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were accounted for, as well as William's best man Prince Harry and their cousins Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice (daughters of an absent Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York).
Once the party was secure inside palace walls, bobbies on foot and horseback led a cheering crowd in its own processional from the church to the palace gates.
The lunch reception, which concludes in the early afternoon, included a ceremonial kiss -- actually, two kisses -- on the palace's grand balcony. Charles will host an intimate evening reception later Friday.
-- Matt Donnelly, with Henry Chu reporting from London
Photo: Britain's Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, wave as they travel in the 1902 State Landau carriage along the processional route to Buckingham Palace on April 29, 2011. Credit: Damien Meyer / Pool / Associated Press