The future king of Britain, Prince Charles, has married his longtime companion, Camilla Parker Bowles, in a civil ceremony. The wedding of Charles and Camilla formalizes a love affair that began nearly 35 years ago, when the couple met at a polo match.
They were married in a simple civil ceremony at the town hall in Windsor, west of London, witnessed by about 30 family members. However, Charles's parents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, did not attend.
Charles and Camilla decided against a church wedding, since both are divorced, and had carried on their affair during their previous marriages. Charles's first wife, the late Princess Diana, had blamed Camilla for the breakup of her marriage.
After the civil wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, conducted a ceremony blessing the union at Saint George's Chapel in nearby Windsor Castle. The queen was present at that service, along with many dignitaries, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The newlyweds exchanged vows administered by Archbishop Williams.
The royal wedding had been plagued by controversy since it was announced in February, and even the date had to be shifted at the last minute, so as not to conflict with the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
So, there were broad smiles of joy and relief on the faces of the royal couple, as well as Queen Elizabeth, when the blessing ceremony concluded, and the reception began.