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The bells of Westminster Abbey rang out in celebration as the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge emerged from the Great West Door.
It was a glorious spring day and Britain was abuzz with wedding fever – relishing the culmination of a royal fairy tale and touched by a true love story.
As the newlyweds climbed into the State Landau to make their way back to Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty the Queen stood on the steps, waving and beaming with pride.
Then she turned to the Duke of Edinburgh and said with a sigh, “Well, that was excellent, wasn’t it?”
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Seeing her grandson and second in line to the throne starting out married life was both a joy and a relief for the Monarch following the unfortunate breakdown of three of her children’s unions. And in the 10 years since, her delight and admiration has grown as William and Kate’s marriage has gone from strength to strength.
So, on 29 April, as they mark their 10th anniversary, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can expect a very special tribute from a grateful and affectionate Queen. We'll also be celebrating the milestone moment in OK!'s exclusive royal wedding special on sale now.
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“It’s impossible to underestimate just what an achievement this milestone represents,” says royal expert Duncan Larcombe.
“William and Kate have got through 10 years of marriage and royal duties without so much as a moan.
“Like any couple, they’ve had their ups and downs, their rows and tensions. But their commitment to the Queen and to this country has been unwavering… and the controversy over Meghan and Harry’s departure from the UK has made that even clearer.
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“So, Her Majesty will be keen to recognise their decade of loyal service and, in particular, celebrate Kate’s unique contribution to The Firm.”
But how she will do so is still unclear. Duncan continues, “An anniversary dinner or reception is obviously impossible because of the Covid-19 pandemic. And I don’t think the Queen will bestow any new honours or titles on the couple either. In 2019, she marked Kate’s eighth year in The Firm by appointing her a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. But she is conscious of the fact that their status could soon change dramatically – when her own reign comes to an end.
“Whatever she decides, as a Queen and grandmother, she will not let this occasion pass without paying tribute to Kate and William.”
Royal fans everywhere will also be sending congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have secured their place in the nation’s affections with their hard work, humour and heart.
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Over the past 10 years, they have taken on more than 50 patronages between them, and the initiatives of their Royal Foundation are making a real impact in areas such as conservation, mental health and early years issues.
This is also a toast to their 20 years together, celebrating Kate and William’s partnership ever since they first met at St Andrews University in 2001.
Ten years of marriage is traditionally marked by a tin anniversary. And, while not particularly regal, it seems very apt for the Cambridges, because tin represents the durability and flexibility needed to sustain a loving partnership – strength without showiness.
The couple are said to be planning a low-key celebration with their three children, George, seven, Charlotte, five, and Louis – who turns three just six days before their anniversary – at Anmer Hall in Norfolk, where the family have spent lockdown.
They have been homeschooling the children while keeping up with their official engagements as much as possible by video link and making morale-boosting calls to NHS and frontline workers.
“I’m sure William would love to whisk Kate off for a second honeymoon to the Seychelles,” Duncan says. “Or return to the lodge at the foot of Mount Kenya, where he proposed in October 2010. But they will be perfectly happy to spend the day with the children, Zoom with the Queen and Prince Charles and Camilla, and possibly have an online party with friends in the evening,” he adds.
Duncan, one of only six journalists invited to the Cambridges’ wedding, remembers the excitement and enormous sense of hope for the couple’s future. “It was pretty amazing to be sitting there in the Abbey, in Poets’ Corner, watching them embark on their new life together,” he says.
“I remember the Bishop of London, who gave the sermon, quoting from St Catherine of Sienna, whose festival day it was, ‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’
“He said marriage was the way a man and woman help each other to become their deepest and truest selves, and Kate and William clearly took that to heart.
“They might not actually have set the world on fire, but they have travelled to all corners of the globe, worked for all manner of charities and good causes and proved to be shining lights. William had plenty of preparation for royal life, but Kate only had a few years to learn the ropes.
“He knew she was more than capable, but wanted her to be really sure, hence the long courtship.
“It seems crazy now, but before the wedding, some people thought Kate was a little dull. There was a bit of ‘she’s no Diana’ and ‘she’s never going to be a style icon’ – but look how she’s proved them wrong.
“She was never going to be a rock-star, red-carpet royal, but in the last 12 months post-Megxit, we have really seen the coming of age of Kate.
“She is really starting to look like a queen-in-waiting.”
Duncan continues, “The only time I have ever seen Kate put a foot wrong was when she did it quite literally – and got the heel of her shoe caught in a grate. It was during a St Patrick’s Day ceremony with the Irish Guards at Aldershot in 2013.
“Kate totally styled it out, but Prince William, who’s Colonel of the Regiment, was laughing as she bent down to free her foot while a soldier held his salute.”
We must wait and see how the Queen marks this special anniversary for William and Kate. But there can be no doubt that she will remember their excellent wedding day in 2011 as a crucial landmark in the long history of the monarchy.
Duncan adds, “The royal family has had a very turbulent three years. So now more than ever, they are looking for stability.
“The royal tectonic plates have shifted and, whether we like to admit it or not, Queen Elizabeth’s reign is drawing to a close, so the focus must be on the future.
“Charles will still succeed his mother, but everyone knows that King William and Queen Catherine are the future.
“Her Majesty must give thanks every day that William picked such a dutiful, reliable wife.”
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