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Apr 29, 2011 | Matthew Davies

Anglicans Play Central Role in Royal Wedding

[Episcopal News Service] An estimated 2 billion people around the world tuned in on April 29 to watch the historic royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, a ceremony infused with British pageantry and steeped in elements of Anglicanism – past, present and future.


The streets of London bulged with thousands of well-wishers – some who'd camped for days to ensure the perfect spot for catching a glimpse of the happy couple, named just before the wedding as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.


Inside the abbey, the Very Rev. John Hall, dean of Westminster, conducted the service according to a 1966 version of the liturgy of matrimony from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, while Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, as head of the officially established Church of England, presided over the royal wedding and solemnized the marriage.


The Anglican leaders of Scotland, Ireland and Wales were among the 2,000 guests also to attend the ceremony, alongside representatives from other faith traditions, members of the British and foreign royal families, international dignitaries, members of the U.K. Parliament, and a smattering of celebrities, including musician Sir Elton John, and footballer David Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl singer Victoria.


The Most Rev. David Chillingworth, primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said in a statement that it was "a great privilege" to attend the royal wedding. "Every wedding is a moment of hope and trust as people commit themselves to one another and to the unknown future."


Chillingworth said he hopes that all who gathered "to watch the pageantry" of the event "will remember to hold in their prayers William and Kate – two young people who face exceptional challenges and calls to service in their lives."


Bishop Richard Chartres of the Diocese of London, a personal friend and mentor to the royal family and dean of Her Majesty's Chapels Royal, delivered the address.


"This is a joyful day. It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations, because this is as every wedding day should be -- a day of hope," said Chartres during the sermon. "Faith and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life … I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life and I pray that God will bless you."


Chartres, who confirmed Middleton into the Church of England at a private ceremony in March, said: "We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril ... We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of living wisdom and reverence for life, for the earth and for one another. Marriage should transform as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we don't harbor ambitions to reform our partners … Each must give the other space and freedom."


Also attending the ceremony were Archbishop of York John Sentamu and his wife, Archbishop Barry Morgan of the Church in Wales and Archbishop Alan Harper of the Church of Ireland.