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Andrew, Sarah Married Amid Royal Splendor

July 24, 1986|TYLER MARSHALL | Times Staff Writer

LONDON — Red-haired, freckle-faced Sarah Ferguson on Wednesday married Queen Elizabeth's second son, Andrew, at stately Westminster Abbey amid fanfares, pealing bells and cheers from an estimated 500,000 well-wishers in London's streets.

With a global television audience estimated at more than 300 million looking on, the Royal Family celebrated the occasion with a sense of pomp, military precision and style that have become a British trademark. Not even the bride, clad in a flowing, Edwardian-style gown with an elaborately embroidered and beaded train, was late for the ceremony.

The bride and groom, both 26, entered Westminster Abbey as Andrew, the royal playboy, and Sarah, the commoner daughter of a British military officer, and emerged as the Duke and Duchess of York.

Queen Elizabeth had officially dubbed Andrew the Duke of York--a title often bestowed on the second sons of monarchs--as a wedding gift 90 minutes before the ceremony. Andrew also automatically received a raise in salary upon saying his vows, from $30,000 a year to $75,000.

After the church service, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert A. K. Runcie, the couple crowned the day for thousands of spectators by appearing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the rest of the Royal Family. With members of the crowd prompting, "Kiss, kiss," the two exchanged a soft kiss on the lips.

The ceremony was less elaborate than the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and then Lady Diana Spencer, and the day was not proclaimed a public holiday. Nonetheless, thousands of Britons abandoned their work stations to watch the Royal Family travel, in gilded carriages and coaches, to the 11th-Century abbey.

The 1,700 guests inside the abbey included princes from Europe and Japan, American First Lady Nancy Reagan, a sprinkling of show business celebrities, and, at Sarah's insistence, friends from her home village, Dummer, 49 miles west of London, as well as all the men and women who arranged the 30,000 flowers massed all over the abbey.

Fashion experts who had criticized the latest Royal Family member's figure and supposed lack of clothes sense, and openly fretted about her choice of an unknown designer for her wedding gow1848385641proclaimed her ivory-colored, silk dress a triumph.

The gown, by 34-year-old London designer Lindka Cierach, was beaded with the bees and thistles of the bride's coat of arms. Anchors and waves, to honor her new husband, an officer in the Royal Navy, were embroidered on the 17 1/2-foot train, centered with his monogram, a large A. Four S's, for Sarah, were outlined in beads on the pearl-edged bodice.

After the wedding, a midday breakfast of roast lamb and lobster and an extended reception, the royal couple left the palace in an open, horse-drawn coach for the airport and a honeymoon flight to Portugal's Azore Islands, 740 miles west of Lisbon.

Prince Edward, Andrew's younger brother and "supporter" or best man, loaded their going-away coach with a huge brown teddy bear, attached a fake satellite dish with the message "phone home" to the vehicle's rear and festooned it with flags and balloons. At Heathrow Airport, the Royal Air Force jet taking the couple on their honeymoon revealed a large "Just Married" sign near its tail as it taxied for takeoff.

On a day of royal solemnity, punctuated by a light-hearted spontaneity, the bride's only flicker of nerves came during the exchange of vows. Although she said she had practiced for hours, she stumbled over Andrew's four names, Andrew Albert Christian Edward, reciting Christian twice.

The mistake was similar to that made by Princess of Wales, who flubbed the names of Prince Charles at their wedding.

But for the most part, the bride was true to her prediction that she would not let the grandeur of the event prevent her from enjoying what she referred to as "the best day of my life."

Some spectators said they saw her wink at Andrew beneath her veil as she vowed to "obey" her husband. Her choice of the traditional wording, instead of a more modern version that replaces "obey" with "cherish," generated a flurry of protest from feminists. In interviews, however, she has insisted that she was not one to "meekly follow behind" her husband on all occasions but said she believes the husband should lead the family.

Moments after exchanging vows, she and Andrew grinned and whispered to each other. As she walked back down the blue-carpeted aisle, she acknowledged several friends and then later, from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, teased the huge crowd gathered outside, pretending she couldn't hear their chanted demand for the couple to kiss.

Her upbeat mood, also apparent in an hourlong nationally televised interview aired Tuesday evening, percolated through the large crowds that lined the procession route from Buckingham Palace to the abbey and helped turn the event into a carnival-like, nationalistic celebration.

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