Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly leave St. George's Chapel after their wedding yesterday. The couple met in 2003 at the Montreal Grand Prix, when he worked for the Formula One racing team BMW Williams and she worked at the BMW hospitality suite. At first, she had no idea her new boyfriend was the Queen's grandson.
A truly Canadian royal affair: 'Down-to-earth' Montrealer weds Queen's grandson in ceremony at Windsor Castle
Peter O'Neil - The Ottawa Citizen - Sunday, May 18, 2008
WINDSOR, England - "Down-to-earth" Canadian beauty Autumn Kelly, after marrying uncontroversial, rugby-playing royal Peter Phillips yesterday, dazzled what few members of the public were allowed glimpses of the mostly private royal wedding.
The newlyweds, under a light rain in a horse-drawn carriage, passed by two dozen Brownies who were among a small group allowed inside the Windsor Castle walls to watch the post-wedding procession.
The carriage was taking them from the 15th-century St. George's Chapel, location of the remains of royals from King Henry VIII to the Queen Mother, to the reception at the Frogmore House retreat on the Windsor Castle grounds.
The young girls, waiving paper Canadian flags and Union Jacks, saw royalty in the bride's radiant smile, even though her new husband, the first grandson of the Queen, has no title and is a distant 11th in line from the throne.
"She's so pretty! She would make a good princess and a good queen," Lauren Decent, 9, later said.
"Are you her dad?" she asked the reporter trailing her Brownie pack. "You sound Canadian."
Carol Thirkell and her husband, both retired, were also enthused about the newest member of the Royal Family -- and the only Canadian.
They shrugged off some coverage in the London media suggesting that Ms. Kelly and the 70 wedding invitees from Ontario, New Brunswick, and the bride's home town of Pointe Claire, Que., would be of a lesser social "calibre" than the groom's 230 guests that included a who's-who of British aristocracy.
"I have no problem with Autumn. We love Canada. They're good people," Ms. Thirkell said as she stood outside the palace entrance, hoping to catch a glimpse of royalty.
The bride was wearing a tiara, loaned to her by her new mother-in-law, Princess Anne, and a necklace and earrings that were wedding gifts from her husband.
Walking up the chapel steps with her father, Brian Kelly, and flanked by bridesmaids in sage-green dresses, she wore an ivory silk satin gown with "a strapless, empire bodice in beaded Chantilly lace with an opulent A-line skirt," as described by Sassi Holford, the dress designer.
Ms. Holford, who stood beaming near the entrance to the chapel when the bride arrived in a maroon Bentley, told reporters she designed the "understated" gown to be consistent with the personality of a young woman of working-class roots who served pints at a pub to support herself through university.
"It wasn't intimidating (working with the bride on the design) because she is such a down-to-earth person."
The couple, both 30, received a roar of applause from guests at the church before posing after the ceremony for reporters on the chapel steps.
They stood with Mr. Phillips' grandparents, the Queen and Prince Philip, as well as Princes Charles and his wife Camilla, Prince Harry, and other Royal Family members.
The mood was relaxed.
The Queen and Prince Philip chuckled after a brief private exchange, and at one point a smiling Harry stepped forward for no apparent reason to give each of his grandparents a French-style double-cheek peck.
While the bride dutifully smiled for the cameras, there appeared to be almost no attempt to play to them. The low-key approach, in keeping with the couple's attempt to maintain privacy as much as possible, made the event appear somewhat anti-climactic.
While several hundred members of the public stood outside the Windsor Castle gates, many had no idea the wedding was taking place and some were annoyed that the grounds were closed to visitors.
"For a royal wedding it was a bit flat," said veteran royal-watcher Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine.
Media and public attention ahead of the ceremony appeared fixated on two guests.
There is a buzz surrounding Kate Middleton, the on-again girlfriend of Prince William, son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, because she was acting as her boyfriend's stand-in at the ceremony.
Prince William was previously committed to attend a wedding in Africa.
Ms. Middleton's role is viewed as an indication that "Waity Katie" -- her nickname based on the assumption she's anticipating a royal wedding of her own -- is edging closer to becoming a princess.
There is also growing fascination over the presence of Chelsy Davy, the girlfriend of Diana's youngest son Harry.
She was to be introduced yesterday to the Queen for the first time. That was being viewed by feverish royal-watchers as a sure sign the Royal Family takes the relationship seriously.
Four twenty-something, unmarried British women, on a giddy 50-minute train ride from London to Windsor yesterday, said tabloids and the public have little interest in Mr. Phillips.
"He hasn't done anything suitably lairy to get the tabloids' attention," said Kate Melson, a 26-year-old London graphic designer, using a British expression to describe the behaviour of a drunken loudmouth. "The only reason I know about it was because of Chelsy Davy, that she's going to meet the Queen."
But Ms. Melson said she is impressed a member of the Royal Family is marrying a "commoner" from Canada.
"It shows that they're doing it for the right reasons, and that's nice."
The couple met in 2003 at the Montreal Grand Prix, when he worked for the Formula One racing team BMW Williams and she worked at the BMW hospitality suite.
He was determined to woo her on his own terms and did not initially tell her of his royal lineage. She has said she found out she was dating a royal when she saw him on a television program about his cousin Prince William.
With files from Citizen News Services
'She's so pretty'
To see a gallery of photos from Autumn Kelly's wedding to Peter Phillips, plus videos and more coverage
Montrealer marries the Queen's grandson at Windsor Castle!
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