Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge celebrate 10th anniversary as nation reflects on happy memories of Royal wedding

It was hailed as the fairytale romance, as the blushing bride and her dashing young prince sealed their wedding vows with a first shy kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are celebrating a decade of married life today.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are celebrating a decade of married life today.

As today marks 10 years since the ‘‘most joyous’’ Royal wedding, the nation is reflecting on a decade of pageantry and purpose, and of a lifetime’s pledge in public duty from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It has been a decade shared in cinematic colour in the images of a couple carrying out their formal office with trademark smiles, and in the more personal pictures of treasured family memories.

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Today marks not only the Cambridges’ wedding anniversary, but 10 years since Kate Middleton joined the House of Windsor to become an HRH.

Crowds line the Mall outside Buckingham Palace following the wedding in 2011.

Royal writer Penny Junor, hailing the grace of the Duchess through what at times has proved to be a difficult year, said that she has become the very model of what a future Queen should be.

“She has got such poise and elegance and she’s not in competition with William,” said Ms Junor. “Everything about her is measured.

“She’s a grown-up. She seems to care a lot about everything she’s put her name to.”

Prince William second in line to the throne, first met Kate Middleton while they were both students at St Andrew’s University.

Prince William drives himself and his wife Kate as they leave Buckingham Palace for Clarence House after the wedding.

They were married at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, and have since become parents to three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

Grand celebrations to honour the wedding, watched by an estimated world audience of two billion people, had featured carriage processions and flypasts.

As the couple married at Westminster Abbey, an avenue of trees had lined the red carpet to the altar, while more than a million people followed their procession to the palace.

During the service, William told Kate she looked “beautiful” and joked to his father-in-law: “We’re supposed to have just a small family affair.”

And as crowds packed The Mall in central London, communities nationwide savoured celebrations in the great British tradition of street parties, crowds gathering in gardens and villages to mark the occasion.

In the years since, that same sense of tradition with more spirited cheer has come to symbolise the portrayal of a modern prince and his future queen.

Amid the formal images of official visits on grand tours of the Commonwealth or further afield, there are refreshing glimpses of character and charm.

Shown with humour in the tilt of a stetson hat or bungled baking attempts before the camera’s eye, the couple have always attempted to demonstrate their human side.

The Duchess, 39, has focused her charity work on early years support, children’s mental health, the visual arts and promoting the benefits of outdoor life.

Ms Junor said she developed a new level of respect for the Duchess last month after Kate visited the vigil for Sarah Everard, whose body was found after she disappeared while walking home in south London.

“It was to do with women and how safe women feel. It was not party political by any stretch of the imagination,” Ms Junor said.

“I thought the fact she went entirely unannounced, dressed down just looking like another woman there, I thought it spoke volumes.”

And following a year of challenge in which every move of the Royal Family has been under intense scrutiny, Ms Junor praised the Cambridge family’s actions during the lockdowns.

The couple had led by example, she said, as they baked for vulnerable people, clapped for carers in the NHS, and battled with the challenges of homeschooling their three children.

In doing so, she added, they had emulated the efforts shown by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, during the Second World War.

“I think it’s shown what monarchy is all about,” said Ms Junor. “They have a lovely family unit.

“We really have as near to normal a family in the Cambridges as we’ve ever seen in the Royal Family, and that all bodes well for the future.”

Villages and communities across Yorkshire’s landscapes had paused in celebration with street parties and events to mark the Royal wedding in 2011.

Hundreds had descended on the North York Moors village of Castleton as bunting flew and cardboard cutouts of the couple were displayed.

Zoe Hood, who ran the village shop and had helped to organise this particular party, had said it was a “great opportunity” to turn back the clock to the times of Charles and Diana’s wedding.

“It was the first chance the children had to experience a street party, and they thoroughly enjoyed it,” she had told The Yorkshire Post.