The Prince of Wales finally wed Camilla Parker Bowles today making her an HRH and the most senior female member of the Royal Family after the Queen.
The happy couple left Windsor’s Guildhall arm-in-arm amid cheers from well-wishers.
Camilla emerged from the civil ceremony as wife of the future King and with the title the Duchess of Cornwall.
The wedding, which formalised a relationship that has spanned nearly 35 years, was not witnessed by the Queen.
She was absent, remaining at nearby Windsor Castle, after choosing not to watch her eldest son Charles and new daughter in law read their vows in the non-religious service.
Every other senior member of the Royal Family, except the Duke of Edinburgh who stayed away with the Queen, was present – including Camilla’s new stepsons Princes William and Harry.
Stepping out of the Guildhall, Charles and Camilla faced the world’s media for the first time as man and wife.
The heir to the throne’s former mistress and William and Harry’s new stepmother now wears a royal wedding band of Welsh gold and holds the coveted title Her Royal Highness.
The couple arrived together to marry, smiling and waving to cheering crowds as they entered the building while a school band played the tune Congratulations.
The happy couple left Windsor Castle minutes earlier for the short drive through packed streets of cheering well-wishers.
A small group of spectators booed as they passed, but for most it was a happy occasion on a sunny April day.
Mrs Parker Bowles was wearing an oyster silk basket-weave coat with herringbone stitch embroidery and a chiffon dress with applique woven lacquered disc detail. The outfit, by the design team Robinson Valentine, took more than six weeks to make.
Her hat, designed by Philip Treacy, was made of natural straw, overlaid with ivory French lace and trimmed with a graphic fountain of feathers.
By noon police were estimating that around 15,000 people had arrived in Windsor for the occasion.
Around 20,000 descended on the town when Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999 and about 600,000 spectators turned out for Charles’s first wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Minutes before the service began officials announced that three last minute objections to the civil ceremony had been dismissed by the deputy registrar general Dennis Roberts.
Having spent the night at Clarence House, the London residence of the Prince of Wales, Camilla left to be driven the 20 miles to Windsor at 10.10am.
In keeping with tradition, Charles spent the night apart from his bride-to-be at Highgrove, his country mansion in Gloucestershire, with his sons Princes William and Harry.
In Windsor a hardcore of royal watchers braved freezing temperatures during the night to ensure they got a good spot to see Charles and Camilla finally formalise their controversial relationship.
Barbara Murray, 41, from Attleborough, Norfolk, who , spent the night with three generations of her family camped out in two tents festooned with union flags on the pavement opposite Windsor Guildhall, said: “We have come to give Charles our support as he doesn’t seem to have much support, things have gone wrong for him and Camilla this week so we felt a bit sorry for him.”
Norma Southwood, 54, from Blackpool, said: “I think Charles is a really good man born before his time, Camilla and he should be left in peace to get on with their lives.”
Not everyone shared their feelings. A Church of England vicar was among those lodging an official objection to the wedding.
Father Paul Williamson, 56, a priest at St George’s Church in Feltham, west London, was the first person to arrive at civic offices in Windsor, opened specifically to hear protests against the marriage.
He said he was complaining about the marriage on the grounds that the Queen had broken her Coronation oath to preserve the doctrine of the Church of England by consenting to the wedding of the two divorcees outside the church.
He also argued that both the Queen and Prime Minister failed to seek permission from the Commonwealth, which he claimed was a requirement in law.
He said: “I think people have to stand on principle and do what they believe in.”
“The Queen vowed to uphold the gospel and it is clear that in the eyes of the church this purported marriage should not take place.”
The Prince’s spokesman Paddy Harverson acknowledged that the wedding was not popular with some people, but predicted that the public would warm to Mrs Parker Bowles over the coming months and years.
And Mr Harverson again dismissed suggestions that the Queen’s absence from the actual wedding ceremony implied any disapproval of her son’s match, insisting that she had been “supportive of the marriage from the beginning”.
Media concentration on the mishaps surrounding the wedding did not reflect the mood within the Prince’s household, he added.
“We have been much more buoyant and excited than perhaps people realise,” Mr Harverson said.