The happy couple. (AP)
Prince William and Kate Middleton exchanged vows Friday morning. (Today Show)
Eager spectators lined the streets of London hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. (USA Today)
The Royal Wedding Cake (The British Monarchy)
LONDON -- Prince William and Kate Middleton were pronounced husband and wife at Westminster Abbey Friday in a royal occasion of dazzling pomp and pageantry that attracted a huge global audience.
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The couple took their vows at about 11:15 a.m. GMT with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, officiating.
The prince, 28, dressed in the resplendent red tunic of the Irish Guards, appeared to initially struggle to get the ring, made of Welsh gold, onto Middleton's finger.
William said "I will" in a clear confident voice, when asked if he would "love, comfort, honor and keep" Middleton. She appeared slightly emotional as she repeated her vows.
According to the Press Association, Prince William told a joke at the altar before the ceremony, saying: "We're supposed to have just a small family affair."
The line was spotted by Tina Lannin, lipreader for O'Malley Communications, the Press Association said. She also spotted Prince Harry nervously comment "Right, she is here now," as Middleton arrived.
William was spotted winking at his new bride as the service continued.
Middleton, 29, arrived at the abbey at about 11 a.m. and, as soon as she did, Buckingham Palace issued the long-awaited details of what she was wearing: a long-sleeved lace gown and veil, designed by Sarah Burton, creative director for Alexander McQueen.
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William had arrived about half an hour before with his best man, brother Prince Harry.
The groom and his brother were greeted by cheering crowds of thousands as their Bentley drove along The Mall. The pair saluted as they drove on to Whitehall. The brothers, both officers, passed throngs of well-wishers in the state car, painted in royal claret livery.
A million well-wishers - as well as some protesters - flooded into the areas surrounding Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and other London landmarks.
Crowds were up at dawn waving flags for television cameras under steely gray skies and cool temperatures.
Cheers erupted as huge television screens began broadcasting at Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park.
Brenda Hunt-Stevenson, a 56-year-old retired teacher from Newfoundland, Canada, said there was only one thing on her mind.
"I want to see that kiss on that balcony. That's going to clinch it for me. I don't care what Kate wears. She is beautiful anyway," she said.
Even astronauts on the International Space Station offered best wishes to the couple in a video posted on YouTube.
Security was tight and as of 11 a.m. local time, police reported 18 arrests had been made for a variety of offenses, including possessing an offensive weapon, sexual assault, assault, criminal damage, a drug offense and being drunk and disorderly, NBC News reported.
'Her Royal Highness'
Buckingham Palace announced early Friday that the couple would be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Middleton will be "Her Royal Highness" and also be Princess William of Wales, but the latter title will not be used.
The second duke of Cambridge, Prince Adolphus Frederick, was the seventh son of King George III. Defying the Royal Marriage Act, he married his mistress, Sarah Louisa Fairbrother, an actress and a commoner, in 1847. Since the marriage wasn't legal, his children were all illegitimate.
In contrast to the clamor outside, inside the abbey all was airy and calm. The long aisle leading to the altar was lined with maple and hornbeam trees as light streamed in through the high arched windows.
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Plumage of Amazonian variety filled the cavernous abbey as some 1,900 guests filed in, the vast majority of women in hats, some a full two feet across or high. Some looked like dinner plates. One woman wore a bright red fascinator that resembled a flame licking her cheek.
A BBC commentator noted there were some "very odd choices" in fashion walking through the abbey's door.
Most men, however, looked elegant and suave in long tails, some highlighted by formal plaid pants and vests. Others wore military uniforms.
Die-hard fans camped out across the street from the abbey to ensure a front-row view of the royal couple and their guests, who started arriving at about 8:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET) in plenty of time for the 11 a.m. (6 a.m. ET) start of the service.
Some 8,000 reporters and support staff descended on the capital to capture the occasion in words and images, and, while some question a British government estimate of a global audience of two billion, hundreds of millions were certain to have tuned in.
Among the guests attending the ceremony were soccer star David Beckham and his wife Victoria, Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe and comic actor Rowan Atkinson, star of the film "Mr. Bean."
Among the last to arrive was Queen Elizabeth II, wearing a primrose Angela Kelly dress and matching crepe hat adorned with silk roses, and her husband Prince Philip, who entered the abbey to a fanfare of trumpets with about 10 minutes to go.
The marriage provided some welcome light relief amid general economic gloom in the U.K.
The year-old Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is in the process of introducing swinging spending cuts designed to reduce the deficit.
New figures for the first three months of 2011 showed that the U.K.'s GDP grew by just 0.5 percent, prompting the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Ed Miliband, to claim Wednesday that the economy had "flat-lined."
But while the wedding might lift the spirits of many in the country, some slightly dour economists have estimated that the extra public holiday created to allow people to join in the celebrations will cost billions of pounds, with one even saying it will knock a quarter of a percentage point off second-quarter GDP growth.
'Just a wedding'
And not all Britons are celebrating. An Ipsos MORI poll for Reuters this month found 47 percent of Britons were either not very or not at all interested.
"It's just a wedding," said 25-year-old Ivan Smith. "Everyone is going mad about it. I couldn't care less."
However, for the majority, the marriage between William, second in line to the throne, and Middleton, dubbed "Waity Katie" for their long courtship, has cemented a recovery in the monarchy's popularity.
Three-quarters of those polled by Ipsos MORI for Reuters on the wedding said they favored Britain remaining a monarchy. And a survey in the Daily Mail newspaper showed 51 percent of people believed the wedding would strengthen the monarchy.
Security was tight, with Britain on its second highest threat level, meaning an attack by militants was considered "highly likely," and police carried out thorough searches along the route.
The AFP news agency filed a photograph that it said showed a man being arrested by police near the abbey.
A series of scandals involving senior royals, Britain's economic difficulties and Princess Diana's death in 1997 at age 36 in a car crash after her divorce from Prince Charles led many to question the future of an institution rooted in the imperial past.
But William's image as a more rounded, less distant figure than his father, and the fact that Middleton is the first "commoner" to marry a prince in close proximity to the throne in over 350 years, appear to have worked in the monarchy's favor.
William has deliberately tried to keep the memory of his mother alive and gave Middleton his mother's sapphire and diamond engagement ring.
"Their marriage will breathe new life into the monarchy as the queen enters the twilight of her reign, bringing new blood and a fresh perspective to an institution that faces criticism for being elitist and out of touch," royal biographer Claudia Joseph told Reuters.