- Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2011

LONDON (AP) - Tens of thousands of people have lined the royal wedding route hours before Prince William and Kate Middleton marry, with the crowd in a jovial mood despite steely gray skies over London.

Many were wrapped in British flags and others painted their faces with the Union Jack. Thousands camped out overnight in front of Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

The crowds continued to stream toward both locations Friday. Even babies were taking part in the mood, with one sleepy boy on a bus after dawn whose stroller was decorated with small British flags.

Dedicated royal watchers camped outside got an unexpected surprise _ a visit from William. He emerged from his residence Thursday night to greet the hordes of well-wishers gathered along the processional route.

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

LONDON (AP) _ With the two simple words “I will,” Prince William and Kate Middleton are ending months of buildup and sealing their love with the most public of spectacles, a wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey that holds the promise of a royal renaissance.

A third of the planet was expected to watch Friday as the future king and queen of England start their lives as husband and wife.

All the clamoring about seemingly every detail _ the wedding dress, her hair, her makeup, the romantic kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony, the honeymoon _ finally will be answered.

Save perhaps for the biggest question of all: Is this one royal couple who will live happily ever after?

Will their union endure like that of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, now in its 64th year, or crumble like that of Prince Charles and Lady Diana?

Recent history augurs badly: The first marriages of three of the queen’s four children ended in divorce. But the couple’s chemistry brings confidence that this one will work.

William and Kate look fantastic together, seeming to glow with happiness in each other’s company, and unlike Charles and Diana they’ve had eight years to figure out they’re made for each other.

But the fate of their marriage will depend on private matters impossible for the public to gauge amid the hoopla. A beautiful bridal gown and eye-popping sapphire and diamond engagement ring do not guarantee a happy ending. Money, power, beauty _ it can all go wrong if not carefully nurtured.

Much will depend on whether 28-year-old William and 29-year-old Kate can summon the things every couple needs to make a marriage work: patience, love, wit and wisdom. But they face pressures most of us don’t: the twin burdens of fame and scrutiny.

These are the thorny issues upon which the fate of the monarchy rests, as the remarkable Queen Elizabeth II, now 85, inevitably ages and declines.

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