LONDON — Red-haired commoner Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew today at Westminster Abbey amid bugle fanfares, pealing bells and a nation's cheers in a spectacle that mustered the pomp and glory of Britain's 920-year-old monarchy.
The couple had to share their going-away carriage with 24,000 rose petals and a giant teddy bear.
Dr. Robert Runcie, the archbishop of Canterbury, pronounced the 26-year-old couple man and wife in a church ablaze with 30,000 flowers whose pale pastels echoed the ivory silk satin of Ferguson's Edwardian wedding gown, beaded with the bees and thistles of her coat of arms, and anchors and waves for her Royal Navy prince.
Edward Handled Jokes
Prince Edward, Andrew's younger brother and "supporter" or best man, took charge of the jokes as the royal couple left Buckingham Palace on their honeymoon.
He loaded their open carriage--showered with rose petals by Princess Diana and the palace staff--with a huge brown teddy bear, strapped a fake satellite dish with the message "Phone home" to the carriage's rear and festooned it with flags and balloons.
The new Duke and Duchess of York rode a scarlet helicopter from the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital to Heathrow Airport, where a royal jet waited to whisk them off to a honeymoon Andrew resolutely kept secret. Their widely reported destination was the Azores islands.
Buckingham Palace Home
The newlyweds will live in his Buckingham Palace apartment when they return.
The bride deserved the overworked term "radiant" as attendants fiddled with her flaming red tresses and the 20-foot veil wafting over her 17 1/2-foot train outside Westminster Abbey. She flashed a shy smile at her father as they entered the 900-year-old church.
Andrew was relaxed and smiling, holding his Royal Navy dress-uniform sword away from his side. He chatted with Prince Edward, 22, who wore the uniform of the Royal Marines he has just joined.
As the service's first hymn was sung, one of the four tiny bridesmaids--a picture of charm in ruffled peach satin with dozens of bows and floral tiaras--stepped forward to adjust Sarah's train and veil.
Stumbles Over Name
Despite an acronym she invented to help her remember, Sarah stumbled slightly over "Christian" in her husband's names--Andrew Albert Christian Edward. Princess Diana reversed two of Prince Charles' names at their ceremony.
Andrew and Sarah both spoke their vows strongly and confidently. The prince gently slipped on his bride's finger a ring of gold from the same Welsh mine that provided the wedding ring for his grandmother in 1923. Ferguson unexpectedly put a ring on the prince's little finger.
After the service, the couple signed the register and Ferguson legally became the Duchess of York and Princess Andrew. The queen conferred the dukedom, usual title for a sovereign's younger son, on Andrew earlier in the day.
Smile for Mum-in-Law
The newlyweds then walked down the aisle, hands clasped and whispering to each other. They paused and Sarah curtsied to Queen Elizabeth, while Andrew bowed to his mother. The bride smiled broadly to her mother-in-law.
The new princess rode to "the greatest day of my life" in the gold-encrusted Glass Coach that carried Elizabeth to her coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953. With Sarah was her father, Maj. Ronald Ferguson, who gave the bride away.
The queen, her husband, Prince Philip, and most other members of Britain's Royal Family watched the 40-minute service from within the sanctuary at the bride's right. The bride's family faced the Royal Family across the altar.
1,800 Guests in Abbey
Jamming the flower-smothered abbey were 1,800 guests, including First Lady Nancy Reagan, 17 members of foreign royal families, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet, the families of both bride and groom and friends, including singer Elton John and actor Michael Caine.
Bride and groom rode back to the palace in the open landau for the balcony kiss, official photographs and a private wedding "breakfast" of lobster, roast lamb and strawberries for about 120 guests, including Mrs. Reagan.
In the going-away procession, the hatless Fergie wore a simple short-sleeved white silk dress printed with violet splashes. Andrew, business-suited, scooped a handful of rose petals out of the bottom of the carriage and threw them at balloons Edward had fixed to its rear.
The 15-minute going-away procession moved past Victoria railway station to the Chelsea Royal Hospital. Drawn up to meet them were ranks of Chelsea Pensioners, service veterans who live in the hospital, in scarlet-jacketed uniforms with tricorn hats.