10 years later: a look back at Prince William and Kate Middleton's star-studded wedding reception

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Over 350 guests gathered for Prince William and Kate’s lavish evening reception. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)
Over 350 guests gathered for Prince William and Kate’s lavish evening reception. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

It was a party fit for a prince and a princess, complete with a grand ballroom in one of the stateliest palaces in the world.

When about 350 guests gathered for William and Kate’s evening reception they were given a right royal treat.

By all accounts everything was perfect. William and his wife had never looked more gorgeous – he dashing in a tuxedo and Kate breathtaking in another Sarah Burton gown.

William and Kate
William and Kate leave Buckingham Palace on route to Clarence House to attend their reception. (Photo: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)

The strapless satin gazar dress with a circle skirt emphasised her tiny waist. A diamanté belt sat above her hips and she wore an ivory angora bolero (which she shrugged off when the party really got going).

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Her make-up was at risk of being ruined when Prince Harry made his speech. He said he loved her like a sister and his mom would’ve been proud to see her marry William.

Harry spoke warmly about his big brother and jokingly referred to him as the Dude. “Harry said William was the perfect brother,” a guest says. “It was exactly how you would expect a best man’s speech to be. He cracked jokes about William. He called him a dude several times.”

Kate looked breathtaking in her Sarah Burton gown. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

The redhead royal also teased William, regaling guests with details of the couple’s early courtship. “William didn’t have a romantic bone in his body before he met Kate so I knew it was serious when he suddenly started cooing down the phone at Kate,” he said much to the amusement of the guests.


The queen’s reception for her grandson and his bride was a sumptuous, elegant affair. About 650 guests feasted on 10 000 canapés, washing them down with drinks such as Pol Roger NV Brut Réserve Champagne.

Prince Charles surprised everyone when he delivered an impromptu speech, welcoming Kate into the family. Touchingly, he said she was the daughter he’d never had and that they were lucky to have her – before making fun of William’s bald spot. “The thing about growing older is that your children get taller than you so they can see your bald spot,” he joked. “In my case, I can see his.”

Prince William also made a short speech, saying how much he loves Kate and thanking everyone. “William was very gracious,” a guest says. “He thanked everyone from the florist to the chef.”

Kate’s father, Michael, also made a speech and had everyone in stitches when he recalled how William landed a helicopter in the back garden of their Bucklebury, Berkshire, home. “I knew things were getting serious when I found a helicopter in my garden. I thought, gosh, he must like my daughter.”

The reception was an intimate family affair, says Millie Pilkington, a friend of the Middletons who took the reception photographs. “Their love for each other was so evident; everyone could see it. They looked like they had been made for each other.”

They’re known for their love of dancing and their first dance was to Elton John’s Your Song, sung by 24-year-old Ellie Goulding.

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The party was “electric”, a band member says. A DJ later played hits from rappers Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah.

The party became more raucous as the night went on and drinks flowed freely, including Sambuca shots, mojitos and Crack Baby cocktails, a mixture of vodka, passion fruit, champagne and raspberry liqueur from Boujis, the nightclub the royals used to frequent.

Ellie Goulding caught the prince’s ear when he heard her perform at a concert. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

It continued into the early hours until fireworks erupted just before3am. William and his bride went to their room after the display but many of the guests left Buckingham Palace for The Goring Hotel, where Kate stayed the previous night.

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