Royal wedding: Night in white satin
It was a reception that summed up exactly how Kate Middleton and Prince William had planned their wedding — a mixture of royal formality, family intimacy and sheer good fun.
After a post-wedding lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace for 650 guests held by Queen Elizabeth for the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the couple's inner circle — 300 of their most trusted friends and family — retired to their homes or London hotels to rest and then change into their evening wear for the reception at the Palace, hosted by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. Prince William wore black-tie and was accompanied by his new bride, looking every inch the princess in another flowing white satin dress, accessorised with a diamante detail at the waist and an angora bolero cardigan, again by the wedding dress designer Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.
The couple emerged from Clarence House shortly after 7pm. The Middletons also changed for the evening party — Pippa had changed from her demure white bridesmaid's dress into an eye-catching floor-length emerald dress, trimmed with a flash of diamante.
Guests sipped drinks and gazed at paintings by the Old Masters including Velazquez, Rubens and Van Dyck. Shortly after 8pm, they were ushered into the Palace's ballroom for dinner, the room complete with two huge thrones at one end, and an organ at the other. "It looked absolutely stunning," said one guest. "There must have been at least 30 round tables, with 10 people on each, decorated with beautiful white flowers and candles.
"When we had arrived earlier, we were each given a little envelope with our table name on it, and the tables had a personal touch too — they had clearly been named after places that were special to the couple and their friends."
As everyone present at dinner was deemed "equally important" to the newly-weds, the tables were a mix of royals, family members and friends of the couple.
‘Organic and local'
In keeping with the couple's "organic and local" theme, from the flowers and plants in Westminster Abbey to the canapes served at the lunch reception, guests at dinner were treated to a menu of British food created by Anton Mosimann, a leading chef and owner of Mosimann's private dining club in Belgravia where the couple are regulars.
Dinner began with a starter of dressed crab from Wales, accompanied with mini crab timbale, crayfish and prawns. A main course of lamb fillet from the Castle of Mey, the former Scottish residence of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, "done three ways" followed, before guests were treated to a trio of mini-puddings of trifle, chocolate fondant and homemade ice cream in brandy-snap baskets.
When the petit-fours and coffee had been served, it was time for the speeches. Prince Harry kicked off proceedings with a highly entertaining speech described by one among the audience as "absolutely hilarious", and by another as "an affectionate brotherly joshing", leaving many guests in tears of laughter.
Prince Harry then introduced the bride's father, Michael, who delivered a measured speech filled with anecdotes about the couple and his daughter's childhood. "Mike's speech was all about Kate, and he did very, very well," said a guest.
Another guest told how he joked about the "awkward" conversation between himself and Prince William when the Prince asked for his daughter's hand in marriage.
There were emotional moments when both Princes remembered their late mother in their respective speeches. Both paid tribute to Diana, saying "how much she would have liked to have been here".
Prince Harry finished off the speeches at around 11.30pm, announcing to guests: "Now, we have a bit of a surprise for you all," before they were ushered through to the Throne Room.
Guests were treated to a two-hour set by Ellie Goulding and her band, who are believed to have serenaded the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with her hit song Starry-Eyed as they took to the dance floor for the first dance.
At around 1.30am DJs took over, playing a range of popular chart hits, the booming bass of which could be heard by passers-by outside the Palace well into the early hours. At 2am waiters handed around bacon sandwiches. The official "last dance" of the evening was She Loves You by The Beatles at around 2.30am.
The couple and their guests then made their way out into the Palace gardens, where just before 3am, they were treated to a "spectacular" fireworks display, complete with a Catherine wheel, which exploded as the couple were driven away in a convertible vintage Fiat 500 with "RAF" emblazoned on its side.
According to reports, the final song played was King's of Leon's Sex on Fire, after Prince Harry promised partygoers one final song before they had to leave.
Introducing the song, he told guests: "This has been a great night but please respect the family and those upstairs when you leave. And don't wake up the neighbours.
"OK, here's one more song but promise you will leave after. This one is dedicated to my brother."