Britain's Prince Edward, Sophie Rhys-Jones marry as royals look on
June 19, 1999
WINDSOR, England (CNN) -- It was a modern day fairy tale -- the prince and the commoner.
And one with a happy ending, as Britain's Prince Edward married public relations executive Sophie Rhys-Jones Saturday in a royal wedding at Windsor Castle.
Rhys-Jones beamed as she repeated her vows inside St. George's Chapel at the castle. The prince appeared to struggle as he attempted to place the ring on his new bride's finger.
The wedding itself was modest by royal standards -- a big departure from the more lavish royal weddings of Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew, whose marriages all ended in divorce.
Charles and Andrew served as their brother's "supporters," the royal equivalent of best men.
The bride's father, Chrisopher Rhys-Jones, gave her away as her mother, Mary, her brother and his wife looked on. The ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Norwick, the Right Rev. Peter Nott.
The bride wore an ivory hand-dyed silk organza paneled coat and corseted, V-neck dress, strewn with 325,000 cut-glass and pearl beads. She also wore a diamond tiara and a black and white pearl necklace and earrings designed for her by Edward. The dress was accompanied by a hand-dyed ivory tulle train.
The couple exchanged their vows before 550 guests in what was described as a family service. Many of them had titles of their own, but they were there as relatives, rather than official state representatives.
With its late-afternoon start, the wedding was considered a low-key event. The dress code specified morning dress for men and evening dress for women.
Among the royal guests were the 98-year-old Queen Mother; Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh; and Princess Anne and her husband, Cmdr. Timothy Laurence, as well as their children.
Neither Andrew's former wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, nor Charles' companion Camilla Parker Bowles were invited to the wedding.
The guest list reflected the lifestyle of the first working couple in the House of Windsor -- short on politicians and long on associates from the worlds of show business and public relations.
The 35-year-old prince is a television producer who met the bride six years ago.
Celebrities on the guest list include Prince Edward's former boss, Andrew Lloyd Webber; his former girlfriend, actress Ruthie Henshall; and entertainers Stephen Fry, Billy Connolly and John Cleese.
Singers Tom Jones, Michael Ball and Harry Connick Jr. were invited, as were actors John Travolta, Charles Dance, Robbie Coltrane, Robert Powell and Michael Elphick.
Noticeably absent were the politicians -- even British Prime Minister Tony Blair. That fact reflected the couple's wish that their day was not to be a state occasion.
Blair offered the couple his congratulations from Cologne, Germany, where he was attending the summit meeting of the Group of Eight industrial nations.
Thousands of people lined the streets outside the castle to cheer the couple and wish them well on their wedding day. Following the ceremony, the couple took an open top carriage ride through the town to acknowledge the thousands of well- wishers.
Hours before the ceremony, their mother granted the couple new titles. Edward will be known as the Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn, and will inherit his father's title, Duke of Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace announced Saturday.
Rhys-Jones will be known as Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex, palace officials said. She will use the name Sophie Wessex in her professional life.
The announcement of new titles is a British royal tradition.
Many Windsor area residents and tourists were out on the streets to watch the gala; others opted to stay home and watch the proceedings courtesy of the 50 or so cameras set up around the castle.
The cameras showed the event not just to those in Britain but to millions of other people worldwide on international television networks.
New royal couple named Earl and Countess of Wessex
ITN - Edward and Sophie: Royal Wedding Special
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