32 fun and little-known facts from Prince and Princess of Wales's wedding

It was one of the biggest royal weddings in modern history, but there's still some details that might surprise you.

L-R: Kate Middleton in her wedding dress, Prince William and Kate Middleton kissing
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince William and Catherine, the Princess of Wales, are two of the most beloved royals, and part of their enduring popularity is the fact the world has seen the pair's love story blossom. 

From teenage sweethearts at university to becoming a family of five, the world has cheered on the royal couple through it all, and fans tuned in in their millions to see them make the ultimate commitment back in 2011. 

Let's go back to Royal Wedding Fever and learn some surprising facts about the historic wedding of the future King and Queen. 

32 facts from Prince William and Princess Catherine's wedding

Kate followed an old marriage tradition

Kate Middleton and Pippa Middleton on the day of the royal wedding, 2011

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The now Princess of Wales kept the old tradition of a bride wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue for the momentous wedding. 

The something old was represented in her dress, with the designer using an intricate lace technique called Carrickmacross dating back to the 1800s. The something new was a pair of bespoke earrings commissioned by her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton. 

Something borrowed was the historic Cartier Halo tiara, lent to the Princess by Queen Elizabeth II, and the something blue was a special bit of lace sewn into her gown. 

Sewing in some hidden blue lace was something Princess Diana also carried out for her wedding to the then Prince Charles.

The Making of a Royal Romance by Katie Nicholl | £7.01 at Amazon

The Making of a Royal Romance by Katie Nicholl | £7.01 at Amazon

Published in 2011, this provides a fascinating insight into the lives of Prince William and Kate. It reflects back on her childhood, her close family and her romance with the future King. The book goes up to the preparations for the couple's fairytale wedding and also focuses on their life in Wales together.

The royal bride did her own makeup

Kate Middleton and Prince William on their wedding day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For one of the most anticipated events in modern history, it's surprising to discover that the Princess of Wales decided to do her own bridal makeup. 

Kate's look for the day was quintessentially her - simple, rosy cheeks and a flattering smoky eye which complemented her brunette tresses. 

Kate reportedly took lessons with Bobbi Brown makeup artist Hannah Martin for weeks before the actual wedding, so she didn't completely free-wheel the makeup on one of the most important days of her life.

Kate Middleton's dress was by Alexander McQueen - and was a huge secret

Kate Middleton in her wedding dress at Westminster Abbey

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Today, we expect many of Kate Middleton's best-ever style moments to come directly from the fashion house of Alexander McQueen. From the coatdresses to her flattering gowns, Catherine considers Alexander McQueen a go-to. 

However, back in 2011, it wasn't known who was dressing the royal bride. And it had fashion fans desperate to see the big reveal. 

Once the veil was lifted, pun not intended, long-time Alexander McQueen creative director and Kate collaborator Sarah Burton said in a statement, "It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress, and I have enjoyed every moment of it.

"It was such an incredible honour to be asked, and I am so proud of what we and the Alexander McQueen team have created. I am delighted that the dress represents the best of British craftsmanship."

Kate Middleton’s bespoke earrings had a sentimental significance

Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another touching detail of Kate's look on the day included her enchanting earrings. Rather than relying on a name like Cartier or Tiffany&Co, Kate's earrings came from a smaller designer - Robinson Pelham. 

Carole Middleton commissioned the designer to make the bespoke pair for her daughter. 

The design of the earrings was inspired by the Middleton family's coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves.

Queen Elizabeth’s accessories fit the theme

Queen Elizabeth II attending Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The nation had been swept up in Royal Wedding fever, and Queen Elizabeth II was feeling the romance if her choice of accessory was anything to go by. 

To watch the wedding of her grandson, the late Queen wore a signature bold hue - a yellow Angela Kelly dress and matching hat. On her lapel, she pinned the Queen Mary's True Lovers knot brooch. 

The brooch dates back to 1932, when Queen Mary bought it from the jewellery house Garrard.

She had previously worn the brooch to the 1960 wedding of her younger sister, Princess Margaret. 

Kate Middleton almost didn't wear the iconic Cartier Halo tiara

Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite it being her something borrowed - and an utterly stunning diadem, steeped in royal history - the Cartier Halo tiara wasn't Kate Middleton's first choice. The Berkshire country girl reportedly had plans of wearing a flower crown of sorts, but she ended up following royal tradition with the tiara.

The magnificent tiara features 739 brilliant-cut diamonds and 139 baguettes. 

It was commissioned by King George VI for his wife, best known as the Queen Mother, in 1936. It was later presented to Queen Elizabeth II on her 18th birthday.

Kate’s bouquet featured a sweet nod to her husband

Kate Middleton and Prince William on their wedding day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Princess Catherine honoured her husband in her wedding bouquet, featuring a flower called the Sweet William. 

And this gesture didn't come easy - the flower is thought to only be native to southern Europe and parts of Asia.

Catherine's bouquet was shaped like a shield and included lily of the valley (reportedly representing happiness), Sweet William (reportedly for gallantry), hyacinth (for consistency of love), ivy (for fidelity) and myrtle (traditional for love and marriage).

Kate’s lacy dress had a special symbolism

Kate Middleton in her wedding dress

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sarah Burton shed more insight into details perhaps not visible to the masses after Kate's dress was revealed to the world. 

It was confirmed that they used French Chantilly lace and English Cluny lace throughout the gown's bodice, skirt and underskirt and that the skirt was designed to look like a flower opening. 

According to the Royal Family website, the lace was appliquéd using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique - her something old -  which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. 

Furthermore, four plant motifs - including a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock - were hand-appliquéd onto her ivory silk tulle. These are the national flowers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Over 2000 guests were in Westminster Abbey for the nuptials

Westminster Abbey on the wedding of William and Kate

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Confirmed by the Westminster Abbey's official website, the Abbey was at capacity for the wedding of William and Kate - that's an impressive 2,200 guests! 

As with any royal wedding, heads of state were invited from around the world - as well as a slew of celebrities and names close to the royal couple. Some of the fabulously dressed wedding guests included David and Victoria Beckham, Sir Elton John and Queen Letizia. 

Theirs was the 16th royal wedding to take place at the abbey

Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since 1100, only 16 royal weddings have taken place at the iconic Westminster Abbey. 

The last one before Prince William and Kate Middleton's was the 1986 wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

As well as weddings, Westminster Abbey has been the setting for other iconic royal moments. It is where the Queen’s funeral was held in 2022, and where King Charles’ Coronation took place in 2023. 

The bridal party's wreaths had a hidden meaning

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding parties

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Like with any other royal wedding, royal protocol had to be followed - meaning, unlike traditional weddings, the groom's side likely dictated a lot of what was done. 

But she managed to honour her own family in subtle ways. In addition to the earrings she wore - commissioned to reflect the Middleton family crest - Kate's bridal party wore flower crowns modelled after the one her mother, Carole Middleton, wore at her own wedding in 1981. 

It was watched by an estimated 2 billion people across the globe

Crowds at the royal wedding, 2011

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The world caught royal wedding fever in 2011, with an estimated two billion people tuning in across the world. 

72 million live streams were reported on YouTube alone, with viewing figures in the UK exceeding 26 million. 

Out on the streets of London alone, the Metropolitan Police estimated one million people turned up in person to try to catch a glimpse of the future King and Queen.

Prince William and Harry’s suits were sweatproof

Prince William and Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As Colonel of the Irish Guards, Prince William wore the traditional tunic associated with the role for the wedding. 

The uniform featured the Irish Guards' distinctive arrangement of buttons in groups of four. It was made from pure wool melton, with real gold spun onto the material.

However, due to the heat (and the stress of the day), military tailors Kashket and Partners added sweatpads under the arms so the Prince didn’t overheat at the Abbey.

Per the Express, company chairman Russell Kashket told the Daily Mail, "He was very aware of the heat factor in the Abbey because he knew all the lights would make it very hot. 

"We worked together to get the look he wanted, while making sure he didn't pass out in front of two billion people. We added micro sweat pads under the arms and used less padding."

For country girl Kate, the floral budget was HUGE

Two photos of William and Kate getting married at Westminster Abbey

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Country girl Kate reportedly wanted a touch of rustic Berkshire during her historic wedding. Not only did she float the idea of a flower crown originally - vetoed in favour of a traditional tiara - she wanted plenty of flowers and nature. 

The budget for the flowers is widely reported as hitting a staggering £800,000, which included the transport of six 25-foot maple trees said to symbolise reserve and humility.

It was a public holiday - and not just in Great Britain

Crowds for William and Kate's royal wedding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The day of the wedding - April 29, 2011 - was declared a public holiday for Brits to come out in force and celebrate the wedding of the future King and Queen. 

Princess Diana and Charles’ wedding was a public holiday, but Harry and Meghan’s was not, and neither were Prince Andrew, Edward or Princess Anne’s.

Overseas British territories were also offered a holiday for the nuptials, including Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, and the Falkland Islands.

William and Kate rode in the same carriage as Diana and Charles

Prince William and Kate Middleton riding in their wedding carriage

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Like Princess Diana and King Charles before them, the newlyweds travelled along their route in the 1902 State Landau carriage. 

The 1902 State Landau is the largest horse-drawn carriage (but not coach) used by the sovereign. 

It has a flexible leather roof which drops in two exact halves, back and front. It's thought to be a much comfier ride than the Gold State Coach used for iconic moments like the Coronation. 

Queen Elizabeth went on record to call riding in the Gold State Coach "horrible."

The wedding foliage went on to have a second life

People moving William and Kate's maple trees from their wedding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Proving that nature and conservation have always been a cause close to their hearts - years before William founded the Earthshot Prize - the couple made sure that their maple trees were not wasted after the nuptials. 

The majestic plants were replanted in King Charles' Welsh vacation home.

Designing the dress was a rigorous operation

Prince William and Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey on their wedding day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to the BBC, the team responsible for what was going to be one of the most famous gowns in history treated it like an intense military operation. 

Some of the extreme measures taken to ensure that nothing would happen to the dress’s lace included hiring a team of embroiderers aged between 19 to 70 from the London Royal School of Needlework to share the load.

The network of craftsmen were required to wash their hands every 30 minutes, while needles were renewed every three hours in an effort to keep the fabric pristine.

Kate’s wedding band continued a special tradition

Prince William and Kate Middleton getting married

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kate Middleton's wedding band connects her to every royal bride in a significant way - they all use the same rare gold in their rings. 

Welsh gold has been used in every royal wedding ring, dating back to 1923. The rare gold is from the Clogau mine, which is now closed. 

However, the late Queen Elizabeth II was given a 36g piece of 21-carat Welsh gold in 1981 to continue the tradition. 

The newlyweds drove off in a special car

Prince William and Kate Middleton driving in an Aston Martin

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was a big day for British culture when the future King and Queen were wed, and with all eyes on England, they decided to honour another iconic Brit - Bond. 

The newlyweds enjoyed a stylish drive through the streets in an Aston Martin - the classic car of the spy Jams Bond - decorated with a 'JUSTWED' licence plate. 

The vintage Aston Martin belonged to King Charles, who first received the car for his 21st birthday.

After the big wedding, were two big receptions

Prince William and Kate Middleton leaving their wedding in an Aston Martin

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If the Royal Wedding with its 2,200 guests wasn't already enough pressure, the bride and groom followed up the momentous occasion with two receptions. 

The first was a 600-person lunch hosted by the Queen. Per PEOPLE, Alex van Straubenzee, father of the late Henry van Straubenzee, a close friend of William’s, called the affair "cosy."

"There was a wonderful relaxed atmosphere. There were lots of people there – even in a place as big as Buckingham Palace. I won’t say it was informal, but everyone was having a wonderful time."

The second was an evening affair at Buckingham Palace, where around 300 guests danced the night away.

Kate had a second dress for the reception

(L-R) Kate Middleton and Queen Camilla, Kate Middleton at her evening wedding reception

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For the receptions, Kate Middleton swapped her elaborate lace gown for another epic creation from Alexander McQueen. 

The now Princess of Wales' second dress, also by Sarah Burton, was made from a delicate white satin with a strapless neckline. 

The dress included a full circle skirt with a band of diamante detailing at the waist and Kate paired the dress with a furry white jacket.

Kate’s vows followed Diana’s in one powerful way

Prince William and Kate Middleton with a priest getting married

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following Princess Diana - ever the trailblazer - Kate Middleton switched up the traditional royal vows to take out the word "obey".

Diana was the first royal bride to tweak the classic vows. Instead, both brides promised to "love, comfort, honour and keep".

Meghan Markle also took out the word obey when she married Prince Harry in 2018.

The iconic kiss was almost overshadowed

Prince William and Kate Middleton kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ever since Princess Diana and the then Prince Charles started a tradition that would become iconic to royal fans, people await the Buckingham Palace balcony kiss between royal bride and groom with glee. 

Prince William and Kate's was no exception, but fans couldn't believe it when the royal pair were almost completely overshadowed... by a toddler.

Prince William’s goddaughter, Grace Van Cutsem, was caught looking hilariously grumpy and nearly stole the show from the newlyweds as they shared a smooch. 

Royal friend and pop star Ellie Goulding performed at the reception

Ellie Goulding with Princes William and Harry and others at a Polo match

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After the wedding and the first of the receptions, guests of William and Kate were treated to a nearly two-hour set from pop star Ellie Goulding. 

The friend to the royals (who was also at Princess Eugenie's wedding in 2018) performed for the crowd, and reportedly covered another guest's song in front of him - she performed Sir Elton John's Your Song in front of the Rocketman himself. 

The couple had two wedding cakes

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding cake

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fruitcake has acted as the traditional choice of wedding cake ever since Queen Victoria had an English Plum cake for her nuptials in 1840. Keeping with tradition, William and Kate commissioned an exquisite eight-tiered fruit cake from luxury baker, Fiona Cairns. 

However, as a personal touch, the couple also had one of William's reported favourites - a chocolate biscuit cake.

William and Kate had surprisingly small wedding parties

Prince William, Kate Middleton and their bridesmaids and page boys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite the enormity of the day, the couple kept the wedding parties relatively small. 

Catherine only had four bridesmaids (plus maid of honour, sister Pippa). These were Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor (daughter of the Prince Edward and Sophie), Margarita Armstrong-Jones, (daughter of David Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret's son), Grace van Cutsem, (William's goddaughter) and Eliza Lopes (Queen Camilla's granddaughter). 

William had two page boys, plus Prince Harry as his Best Man. His page boys were William Lowther-Pinkerton, the ten-year-old son of William's private secretary, and Tom Pettifer, the son of William's former nanny.

For comparison, Meghan and Harry had 10 bridesmaids and page boys.

The invitations were issued by The Queen

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding invitations

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Interestingly, the invitations weren't addressed from the bride and groom directly, or the bride's family (which is sometimes customary). 

The royal couple's wedding invitations were addressed from Her Majesty the Queen. 

They featured white, gold, and black lettering. 

As well as Mr and Mrs, they got other new titles

Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Today, they are best known as the Prince and Princess of Wales. But back in 2011, both William and Kate received an influx of new titles upon getting wed. 

The late Queen Elizabeth officially made Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton - their pre-wedding titles - the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day. But they were also bestowed with the Earl and Countess of Strathearn. 

Sentimental music was chosen for the ceremony

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Music is always an important part of every wedding, and the bride and groom paid touching tribute to family members, present and absent. 

"Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer" was sung by the congregation, making it a first for any royal wedding. The hymn was touchingly performed at the funeral of Princess Diana.

Also, instead of the traditional wedding march, Kate walked down the aisle to “I Was Glad”, a song written for the coronation of King Edward VII, and performed at subsequent coronations, including Queen Elizabeth II's.

Their wedding had the X Factor, almost literally

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There was not a more anticipated TV event than the Royal Wedding so it’s no surprise the big guns were brought out.

Diccon Ramsay helped orchestrate the wedding and the TV shots, ensuring the wedding went off like a well-orchestrated production for the nearly two billion people tuning in across the globe.

To achieve this seamless performance, he had to rely on his time as a stage manager for the X Factor (at the time one of the biggest entertainment shows in the UK). History and tradition met showbiz - the sign of the first modern royal wedding.

The honeymoon was kept secret from Catherine

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding kiss

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Princess Catherine had to marry into one of the most famous institutions in history, in front of audiences of billions. So we can only imagine planning a honeymoon might have been just one task too much.

Fortunately, the royal bride was treated to a secret honeymoon by Prince William.

The romantic Prince planned a two-week trip to the Seychelles for his bride. And after overseeing one of the biggest events in modern history, Kate no doubt deserved the rest.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.