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Perky Page : Nuptial Role Child's Play for William

July 23, 1986|Associated Press

LONDON — Big brother Charles wiped away a tear, his 4-year-old son Prince William chewed on the chin strap of his sailor hat, and the bride fluffed one of the groom's names, which she had vowed not to do.

Otherwise, it was pageantry and clockwork precision today at Prince Andrew's marriage to Sarah Ferguson in Westminster Abbey.

Television cameras broadcast the wedding from the medieval church to a worldwide audience estimated at 300 million, but it still was a family affair.

The cameras did not catch Prince Charles, the 37-year-old heir to the throne, taking out a handkerchief and wiping his eyes after the couple exchanged vows and rings. He rose to read the lesson a few minutes later, clear-voiced but looking flushed.

Queen Anxious, Solemn

Queen Elizabeth II, who shed a few tears when Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, looked anxious and solemn through most of the ceremony.

It was William's debut as a page, dressed in a 19th-Century sailor suit, that brought one of the few smiles to his grandmother and had his mother, Princess Diana, nearly giggling.

The four pages and four bridesmaids, aged 4 to 8, had practiced hard at walking in a straight line behind the bride and groom. During the event, the line wasn't all that straight but the children did manage to hold hands and stay on the blue carpet covering the aisle.

Unfortunately, when they sat down on individual pink benches just below the main altar for the service, they had nothing to do for 45 minutes.

Restless Prince William

William, second in line to the throne and the youngest attendant, managed to get his sailor hat askew. Sudden laughter rippled through the abbey when he popped up on video screens set up for the guests, chewing on the chin strap.

He soon was back on the screen again, playing with the bone-handled knife with blunted blade that was part of his costume. Another page, Ferguson's 5-year-old nephew Seamus Makim, began imitating him.

Yawns and fidgets were contributed by bridesmaid Alice Ferguson, 5, and page Andrew Ferguson, 7, the bride's half-sister and half-brother.

Members of the Royal Family did not see the screens, but they had ringside seats at the altar just above the children. Whispered comments passed among Diana, Charles, Queen Mother Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the queen's husband.

Ferguson said before the wedding that she had practiced her vows, was using the word ACE to remember Andrew's three other names--Albert Christian Edward--and looked forward "to knowing at the end of the vows that I haven't fluffed them."

Says Name Twice

She said Christian twice. In 1981, her good friend Diana got two of her royal groom's names reversed.

First Lady Nancy Reagan brought the official U.S. wedding gift to the royal couple--a pair of Steuben crystal "marriage goblets."

The hand-formed goblets are engraved in calligraphy with the name "Andrew" on one and "Sarah" on the other. The back of each glass is engraved with the wedding date and around the goblets are branches, leaves, blossoms and oranges engraved by diamond point.

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