Think fast: Where were you 12 years ago today? If you were in the U.S., did you get up before the sun rose to catch the biggest royal wedding since Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s nuptials in 1981? April 29, 2011, marked the wedding day of Prince William to the then Kate Middleton—the couple now known as the Prince and Princess of Wales. The pair took to Instagram to share a never-before-seen photo shot by one of their favorite photographers, Matt Porteous, to mark their anniversary, and, while their royal wedding seemed pretty picture perfect to the naked eye, The Daily Express reported that there were three big mishaps on the big day. (Hey—they happen to all of us.)
Many brides and grooms get day of jitters on their wedding day, even if they’re 100 percent sure they’re marrying the right person. (William certainly took his time making sure of just that; the couple dated for eight years before marrying and were friends for two years before that.) Add in that this wedding would be watched by 162 million people around the globe and, yeah, it’s a pressure cooker. William “was very nervous,” The Daily Express reports, and William himself admitted he had only slept “about 30 minutes” the night before. He told reporters he was nervous about “the whole thing.”
Before Kate arrived at Westminster Abbey, William and (was he or wasn’t he—depends on who you ask) best man Prince Harry went to a quiet corner. Duncan Larcombe, former royal editor of The Sun who attended the wedding, spotted the brothers and said in 2017 that “William looked absolutely terrified.” He added “They came out afterwards and gave a deep breath.”
In a second mishap, even though Marie Claire reported today that her late mother-in-law Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring fit so well it never had to be resized, anyone watching the royal wedding saw that William struggled to place the gold wedding band on his bride’s finger—it appeared too small for her finger, and he struggled to slide it up. “It was widely reported that Kate had her wedding band altered after she lost weight in the buildup to the wedding,” The Daily Express reported. “To ensure it didn’t slip off during the ceremony, she had it sized slightly smaller, but it was mistakenly made too small, hence why William struggled to get it on.”
Royal expert Katie Nicholl said in 2011 that an insider told her “Kate asked Wartski, who made the ring, to make it a size smaller so it didn’t slip off. She had her engagement ring resized because she’d lost weight and didn’t want the same problem with her wedding ring slipping off. It has now become a subject of amusement to her and William.”
The final mishap? After the ceremony concluded, the newlyweds drove from Buckingham Palace to Clarence House for their buffet wedding reception, hosted by Her late Majesty. The couple drove in the then Prince Charles’ Aston Martin, festooned with red, white, and blue ribbons, balloons, and L-plates, The Daily Express reported. “But they didn’t get far, because William had a false start when he had forgotten to release the handbrake,” the outlet wrote. “And as a result, they stalled.”
Arthur Edwards, a royal photographer for The Sun, spoke about the moment during a chat with BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs back in 2011. William asked Charles to borrow the car—a present from the late Queen to Charles for his 21st birthday—and, in a fortuitous moment, “Charles had explained to him how to pull off without stalling.”
So many memories from that day—happy anniversary, William and Kate, and many more to come.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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