On a perfect day to get married, Queen Elizabeth's youngest child, Prince Edward, wed Sophie Rhys-Jones in the simplest and most subdued royal wedding Britain has seen for decades.
The 35-year-old groom, who runs a film production firm, and his 34-year-old bride, a public relations executive, are both media savvy and media shy. They thus planned a ceremony and a setting -- Windsor Castle, 15 miles down the Thames from central London -- that would preserve as much privacy as possible for a wedding that was broadcast around the world. The newlyweds wouldn't even provide the traditional post-nuptial kiss for the cameramen.
It was a striking departure from the lavish public festivals that marked the weddings of Edward's sister, Anne, and his brothers Charles and Andrew. All three of those marriages ended in highly publicized divorces, and Edward reportedly concluded that he might avoid ending his marriage in the same way as his siblings if he didn't begin it the same way.
As a demonstration of the couple's determination to break with the royals' unhappy recent history, two women who would have been expected to join the 550 wedding guests were not invited: Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince Charles' longtime lover during his marriage to Princess Diana, and Sarah Ferguson who is the ex-wife of Prince Andrew.
Edward's two brothers were present, serving as his best men. The two older princes flanked their brother -- wearing a morning suit and a bright yellow vest -- as he walked through the castle courtyard in brilliant late-afternoon sunshine and strode up the 22 steps of the 15th-century St. George's Chapel.
Next came the smiling bride, wearing a full-length V-neck ivory silk and organza dress strewn with 325,000 cut-glass and pearl beads. She wore a long white veil just longer than the train of her gown.
Like many brides, she had borrowed an item to wear from her new mother-in-law -- a three-pointed diamond-encrusted tiara from the collection of Queen Victoria that Elizabeth had the royal jeweler refurbish for the occasion. She also wore a black and white pearl necklace and earrings designed for her as a wedding present by Edward. He wore her gift, a gold Hunger pocket watch on a gold chain.
The entire British royal family attended, including the queen and her husband, Prince Philip; Queen Mother Elizabeth, the bridegroom's 98-year-old grandmother; and the sons of Charles and Diana, Prince William, 16, and Prince Harry, 14.
During the 45-minute Anglican ceremony, Edward and Sophie repeated vows "to love, cherish, and obey until death do us part." There was considerable controversy here over the bride's decision to include a promise to "obey."
Princess Diana declined to include that pledge in her wedding in 1981. But Rhys-Jones explained in an interview last week that "it does not mean I am going to walk in his shadow or kowtow. I am saying I trust him to take those decisions that will be for the good of us."
The couple, who have known each other for six years, seem to be in full agreement on many of the decisions they have made so far. Although both hold media-related jobs, they make it clear that they loathe the intrusive British tabloid press. In an interview with the Washington Post, the prince complained that the media had played "not a small role" in the breakup of his siblings' marriages.
Rhys-Jones has good reason to dislike the tabloids.
The women's pages have been snippy toward her. The Daily Mail, which advertises itself as the tabloid Princess Diana liked best, described Sophie recently as "the daughter of a former car dealer . . . best known for her dowdy suits and clumpy shoes."
Then the Sun, the flagship British paper of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, bought, and published, a fuzzy 11-year-old snapshot that showed the royal bride's bare breast. The Sun, roundly denounced, then issued an apology -- at the same time it was syndicating the photo to newspapers around Europe.
The royal couple demonstrated their antipathy by permitting only a single still photographer to take pictures in the chapel. And when pool slots were allocated by lot for camera positions outside, the names of the winning newspapers were drawn out of a trash can.
The British public seems to have sided with the couple in their battles with the media, and they found another ally today in Andrew Motion, the newly named poet laureate. In his first offering as the national poet, he wrote a 12-line marriage hymn that includes a wish for privacy.
Following royal wedding tradition, Queen Elizabeth II gave the couple new titles: They will now be able to call themselves the Earl of Wessex and the Countess of Wessex.
It's not clear, though, whether this honorific will be used much. As the seventh in line for the throne, Edward has seemed satisfied to dwell in a distant outer orbit of the royal galaxy. Rather than cutting ribbons and visiting former British colonies like his relatives, he has started a filmmaking company, and he hands out a business card that reads, simply, Edward Windsor.
The bride says she intends to continue the public relations business she operates from a small office over a porcelain shop. And she reportedly plans to continue using her maiden name as well, which would be a royal first.
In recent interviews, the newlyweds, who have given no hint where they will honeymoon, have stated firmly that for now their jobs and other interests will take priority over starting a family.
CAPTION: Above, Prince Edward with his new wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones. Pageboys, from left, Felix Sowerbutts and Henry Warburton and bridesmaids Camilla Hadden and Olivia Taylor are in attendance. Left, Prince Edward, center, and his brothers Prince Charles, left, and Prince Andrew walk to St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle near London. The couple was married in Windsor Castle, buoyed by the good wishes of thousands who lined the streets to cheer the wedding of Queen Elizabeth's youngest son.