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Party time in London as crowds celebrate royal wedding

By Bryony Jones, Mairi Mackay and Susannah Palk, CNN
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Royal wedding excites enthusiastic crowd
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Deafening cheers greet royal kiss at Buckingham Palace
  • Union Jack flags are on show everywhere, along with flags of other nations
  • Revelers say they have come to see the dress, the balcony kiss and the carriage procession

London (CNN) -- After William and Catherine's fleeting first kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, the vast crowd gathered below chanted a brief chorus of "kiss, kiss, kiss" -- before the couple treated the adoring spectators to their second kiss as newly weds.

A tidal wave of well wishers had surged along the Mall to the palace after the royal procession had passed. Some ran to secure a prime viewing position, some were jumping up and down in excitement, others were simply screaming -- all in a spontaneous outpouring of affection for the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The royal kisses were met with deafening cheers and Union Jack flags were waved in unison as RAF planes flew overhead. Some particularly enthusiastic spectators even jumped into the waters of the nearby Queen Victoria Memorial.

Among the crowd, Shelley Foster, 29, said that while she wasn't a royalist, she appreciated the royal family. "We don't get a chance to celebrate being British and this is something the country has needed for a long time -- we needed it to unite everyone," she said.

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Graham Prince, 72, left Manchester, in northern England, at 5 a.m. to join the crowds along the Mall. He said: "It's a great feeling to see everybody so happy -- and it's not just English people either, there are people from all over the world."

In Hyde Park, where three huge cinema screens had been set up to show live coverage of the wedding, red, white and blue confetti filled the air as crowds cheered the royal couple.

The whole park stood to applaud the first kiss, some popping open bottles of champagne.

Among the revelers in Hyde Park, Jade Saunders, 26, a teacher, said: "We love the dress. We predicted lace and a deep v-neck. We hoped for a longer train but she looked gorgeous, glowing.

"It's nice she had her hair down, it's more natural, more modest. She did it well, just lovely."

Maxine Steer, 50, a company secretary, said: "It's absolutely amazing. I think they're so happy and in love.

"She looked absolutely amazing. I think she stuck to her character and her nature and looked beautiful.

"She's a real people person and I think he's chosen someone like his mother. I wonder who thinks they're the luckiest, her or him. I suspect it's him."

Many spectators had been in position for hours, the crowds at Westminster swelling as Big Ben tolled six this morning.

Some wedding watchers emerged, bleary-eyed, faces as crumpled as their clothes, from tents pitched haphazardly along the pavement.

Gallery: Crowds gather to watch wedding

Others, looking slightly more refreshed, flowed out of nearby Tube stations, clutching paper cups of coffee, fold-up deckchairs and bags of supplies to see them through the long wait ahead.

Among the most ardent royal fans in the crowds at Westminster were June Plackett and Jayne Camlin, from Derbyshire in northern England. The pair -- friends since childhood -- spent three days and two nights camped out on the pavement opposite the Abbey, so keen were they to secure a good view of the wedding.

"We've been here since Wednesday," said Plackett, decked out from head to toe in Union Jack flags. "It's today's news, tomorrow's history -- you cannot miss it.

Everybody else thinks I'm crazy but you've got to be here."
--June Plackett, royal wedding reveller
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"Everybody else thinks I'm crazy but you've got to be here."

Plackett and Camlin are old hands at big royal events: They were in the crowd for Charles and Diana's wedding in 1981, and for Diana's funeral in 1997. They also came to pay their respects to the Queen Mother when she died in 2002.

For Plackett, the wedding day was worth the wait: "It was wonderful -- we had a fantastic view. The dress was just how I thought it would be: perfect, absolutely perfect."

But the royal bride wasn't the only one wearing a wedding dress. Mary Bustamante traveled from Colombia for the festivities -- she's staying with friends she met on Facebook -- and brought her own wedding dress with her for the occasion.

She said: "I've always been interested in the royal family, reading about them all the time, and it was important for me to be here -- it's a once-in-a-lifetime event.

"When I decided to come, my husband said I should take my dress with me -- it's a second chance to wear it."

Back in Hyde Park, even though the royal party had retreated inside Buckingham Palace, the people's party was just getting started. A band played music and revelers danced and cheered.

Jessica Brandenburger, 18, a student from Basel, Switzerland said: "In my country we don't have any royalty, so this is really like a fairytale and it's real.

"I think they're perfect, I'm really happy for them."