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Andy, Fergie wed amid pomp; honeymoon starts with jokes

By
ARTHUR HERMAN

LONDON -- Radiantly but nervously, red-haired Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew amid great splendor Wednesday but had to share her going-away carriage with 24,000 rose petals and a giant teddy bear.

Dr. Robert Runcie, the archbishop of Canterbury, pronounced the 26-year-old couple man and wife in a Westminster Abbey ablaze with 30,000 flowers whose pale pastels echoed the light ivory of Ferguson's heavily embroidered scoop-neck wedding gown.

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Prince Edward, Andrew's younger brother and 'supporter' or best man, took charge of the jokes as the royal couple left Buckingham Palace on their honeymoon.

He loaded their open carriage -- showered with rose petals by Princess Diana and the palace staff -- with a huge brown teddy bear, strapped a fake satellite dish with the message 'Phone home' to the carriage's rear and festooned it with flags and balloons.

The new duke and duchess of York rode a scarlet helicopter from the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital to Heathrow Airport, where a royal jet waited to whisk them off to a honeymoon Andrew resolutely kept secret. Their widely reported destination was the Azores islands.

With pomp and majesty enfolding a simple service, the zesty Ferguson became the wife of Queen Elizabeth's second son, Prince Andrew, newly created the duke of York.

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The bride deserved the overworked term 'radiant,' but looked nervous and apprehensive outside Westminster Abbey as attendants fiddled with her hair and the 20-foot veil wafting over her 17 -foot train. She flashed a shy smile at her father as they entered the 900-year-old church.

Andrew was relaxed and smiling, holding his royal navy dress-uniform sword away from his side. He chatted with Prince Edward, 22, the best man, who wore the uniform of the royal marines he has just joined.

As the service's first hymn was sung, one of the four tiny bridesmaids -- a picture of charm in ruffled peach satin with dozens of bows and floral tiaras -- stepped forward to adjust Sarah's train and veil.

Despite an acronym she invented to help her remember, Sarah stumbled slightly over 'Christian' in her husband's names -- Andrew Albert Christian Edward. Princess Diana reversed two of Prince Charles's names at their ceremony.

Andrew spoke his vows strongly and confidently, Sarah more quietly. It was a double-ring ceremony.

Rain held off during the processions and ceremonial, but the sun did not shine. Overhead a lighter-than-air airship patrolled at low altitude with 'good luck' written hugely on its side.

The simple, standard Church of England wedding service was enveloped in all the pomp and panoply Britain could muster -- brilliant processions, ringing church bells, cheering tens of thousands in flag-decked streets.

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An hour and a half before the ceremony, the queen gave Andrew the titles of Duke of York, earl of Inverness and baron Killyleagh -- making 'Fergie,' as the zesty bride has been universally known, not only Her Royal Highness the Princess Andrew but the duchess of York. The duke of York title traditionally goes to a monarch's second son.

The new princess rode to 'the greatest day of my life' in the gold-encrusted Glass Coach that carried Elizabeth to her coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953. With Sarah was her father, Maj. Ronald Ferguson, who gave the bride away.

The queen, her husband, Prince Philip, and most other members of Britain's royal family watched the 40-minute service from within the sanctuary at the bride's right. Her family faced the royal family across the altar.

Jamming the flower-smothered abbey were some 1,800 guests, including first lady Nancy Reagan, 17 members of foreign royal families, Prime Minister MargaretThatcher and her Cabinet and friends of both bride and groom and their families.

For the first time at a royal wedding, a remote-controlled television camera showed the faces of the bride and groom as they knelt on red damask stools before the altar. An estimated 500 million people watched on television worldwide.

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Bride and groom rode back to the palace in the open landau for the balcony kiss, official photographs and a private wedding 'breakfast' for about 120 guests, including Reagan.

In the going-away procession, the hatless Ferguson wore a simple short-sleeved white silk dress printed with violet splashes. Andrew, business-suited, scooped a handful of rose petals out of the bottom of the carriage and threw them at balloons Edward fixed to its rear -- along with royal wedding flags all over the carriage and on four car-aerial-type poles.

The 15-minute going-away procession moved past Victoria railway station to the Chelsea Royal hospital, built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682. Drawn up to meet them were ranks of Chelsea Pensioners, service veterans who live in the hospital, in scarlet-jacketed uniforms with tricorn hats.

In the first of the day's three splendorous processions, Elizabeth and Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Diana and the immediate royal family rode to Westminster Aabbey in open carriages -- despite overcast skies and persistent showers.

Three divisions of the Household Cavalry, resplendant in polished breastplates and towering plumes, guarded the queen's procession.

Andrew rode from Buckingham Palace in an open 1902 State Landau with Prince Edward, 22, escorted by another mounted guard contingent.

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The bride's cavalry-escorted Glass Coach left from Clarence House, home of the queen mother, where Ferguson had donned designer Lindka Cierach'

'It is our wedding,' she said in a wedding-eve interview. 'We have the final decision. The music, the flowers -- everything in it is a decision we've taken together.'

Even so, the wedding followed every detail of royal wedding tradition. The wedding ring was made from Welsh gold, as were those of four previous royal brides including the queen's and Diana's. Ferguson's S-shaped bouquet, dominated by lilies of the valley as she requested, held a sprig of myrtle descended from Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet.

The Andrew-Sarah wedding's main departure was in the tiny-tot brigade of four bridesmaids and four pages -- Ferguson had no maid of honor. Prince William, Charles and Diana's eldest son and thus a future king, was the youngest: he has just turned 4. The oldest of the 'junior regiment' is 8.

As usual with royal weddings, prayers were offered by the highest ranked clergymen of major Christian denominations and the chaplain of the fleet -- Lt. Andrew wore his dress uniform as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot. Prince Charles read the lesson. There was no sermon.

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Sopranos Felicity Lott and American Arleen Auger sang Mozart anthems during the 11 minutes it took the couple and all royalty present to sign the official registers. The signing took place out of sight of the congregation and cameras, in a chapel behind the altar. The register was between the coronation chair and the shrine of Edward the Confessor, king and saint, who began building the abbey more than 900 years ago.

Then to Elgar's 'Triumphal March' from 'Caractacus,' bride and groom took the 146 paces down the blue-carpeted aisle and emerged to thunderous roars from the waiting crowds. Dozens had camped on sidewalks across from the abbey for two days and nights to secure a vantage point. They crowded 15 deep along the procession route and before the palace.

Bride and groom rode together in the open landau on the L-shaped, mile-long route up Whitehall, through Admiralty Arch and along the processional Mall to the palace.

adv for release by advisory around 7:15 a.m.

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