High society came North at the weekend as Alnwick hosted the wedding of the year.
Princes William and Harry were among those thrilling the crowds at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland’s daughter.
The future King and his younger brother drew screams from onlookers as they attended the marriage of their close friend Thomas Van Straubenzee to Lady Melissa Percy.Related content
Fellow royals Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice were also on the guest list alongside Pippa Middleton, Harry’s ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davey and socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
The A-list cast had come to see the wedding of Lady Melissa, 26, a coach at the prestigious Queen’s tennis club in London and the Duke and Duchess’ youngest daughter, and Mr Van Straubenzee, a 30-year-old chartered surveyor who also lives in the capital.
The two princes joined the groom for the short walk in glorious sunshine from the Percy family’s Alnwick Castle residence to their spiritual home for generations, St Michael’s Church, more than an hour before the 5pm ceremony.
Crowds who had braved a few morning showers to line the route up to eight hours before amid speculation over the presence of royalty went into raptures as the princes appeared, with cheers, applause and screams of “Harry”.
The Duchess of Cambridge stayed away as she prepares to give birth to the couple’s first child next month, but her sister Pippa was present in a black and cream figure hugging dress.
Ms Palmer-Tomkinson was the next famous face to be spotted, wearing a black and white dress and chatting with wellwishers along the route.
Princes Eugenie and Beatrice – the former an ex-Newcastle University student – followed, resplendent in blue and green dresses respectively.
An ensemble of bridesmaids and page boys dressed as characters from Peter Pan went down a treat with the masses.
The Duchess of Northumberland was next, sporting a red dress and soon it was her daughter’s turn to take the limelight.
Lady Melissa arrived with her father the Duke of Northumberland in a 19th century restored horse drawn carriage.
The bride-to-be, looking stunning in a white Bruce Oldfield dress, was joined by bridesmaids, her elder sister Lady Katie Valentine and Ms Davey, wearing beige.
The 500 wedding guests, a sea of tartan clothing and stylish hats, made it into the church with grey clouds passing overhead but thankfully failing to deliver rain.
The marriage was conducted by the Bishop of Newcastle the Rt Rev Martin Wharton, who was assisted by vicar of St Michael’s, the Rev Paul Scott.
Guests were led through two hymns, Tell Out My Soul and Lord of All Hopefulness, while readings were given by the bride and groom’s brothers Max Percy and Charlie Van Straubenzee – the latter reciting The Owl and the Pussy-cat.
The beaming newlyweds emerged from the church after the ceremony just as the heavens opened, taking shelter together under an umbrella and waving to the cheering masses.
But the rain was short-lived and the wedding party was able to make its way to the castle for an evening reception and dinner.
Curious wellwishers were allowed into the church, to see it in its decorated state.
A celebratory firework display was held later, enjoyed by residents who gathered on the town’s Pastures.
Among the crowds earlier had been Lisa Rutter, 41, of Chapel Lands in Alnwick, and her children Aaron and Jessica.
The Northumberland County Council admin officer said they had come mainly to see the two princes.
She said: “We saw a quick glimpse of them, we thought they were brilliant.
“It is just nice to see them looking so natural and smiley and we are pleased the rain has stayed off for them.
“We did not know they would be coming. I had a feeling Harry would come, I did not think William would come. It is lovely for the town.”
Cyn Sigdwick, of Felton, said: “It has been wonderful, we have seen everybody. Haven’t they been lucky with the weather?
“It is lovely for Alnwick and how supportive the people of Alnwick have been.”
Helen Holden, 45, of Northumberland Street, Alnmouth, was watching with her daughters Grace, seven, and Charlotte, six, both pupils at Hipsburn First School.
The mother, who runs her own business making Northumbrian textile prints, said: “I love looking at the hats and dresses, they all look gorgeous. Thank god the sun is shining and it is not raining.”