- Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2011

LONDON (AP) - The bride has arrived, and Britain’s biggest royal wedding in decades has begun.

Kate Middleton emerged from a Rolls-Royce at Westminster Abbey on Friday in a long sleeved dress designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.

She began the long walk up the aisle to the strains of Charles Parry’s “I was glad.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) _ Prince William and best man Prince Harry strode into Westminster Abbey in formal military attire Friday as royal fans packed the streets of London, hoping to snatch a glimpse of a historic royal wedding expected to revitalize British monarchy.

Some 2 billion people across the globe were expected to tune in as William and Kate Middleton, the future king and queen of England, start their lives as husband and wife with the two simple words “I will.”

A million well-wishers _ as well as some protesters _ were flooding into the historic environs surrounding Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and other London landmarks. By dawn, crowds were waving flags for television cameras under steely gray skies and cool temperatures. Cheers erupted as huge television screens began broadcasting at Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park.

“Will, it’s not too late!” said one sign held aloft by an admirer dressed as a bride.

Brenda Hunt-Stevenson, a 56-year-old retired teacher from Newfoundland, Canada, said there was only one thing on her mind. “I want to see that kiss on that balcony. That’s going to clinch it for me. I don’t care what Kate wears. She is beautiful anyway.”

Although the designer of Middleton’s dress remains a mystery, William wore the scarlet tunic of an Irish Guards officer. His choice of ceremonial military dress sent a strong signal of support for the armed forces, reinforcing his new image as a dedicated military man, not a club-hopping party boy.

In contrast to the clamor outside, inside the abbey all was airy and calm. The long aisle leading to the altar was lined with maple and hornbeam trees as light streamed in through the high arched windows.

Plumage of Amazonian variety filled the cavernous abbey as some 1,900 guests filed in, the vast majority of women in hats, some a full two feet (.6 meters) across or high. Some looked like dinner plates. One woman wore a bright red fascinator that resembled a flame licking her cheek. A BBC commentator noted there were some “very odd choices” in fashion walking through the abbey door.

Most men, however, looked elegant and suave in long tails, some highlighted by formal plaid pants and vests. Others wore military uniforms.

All the clamoring over every detail _ the wedding dress, her hair, their titles, the romantic kiss on the balcony, the honeymoon _ finally will be answered. But the biggest question won’t be resolved for years: Will this royal couple live happily ever after?

Will their union endure like that of William’s grandparents _ Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, now in its 64th year _ or crumble in a spectacular and mortifying fashion like that of his own parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana?

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