RABAT, Morocco, July 13 (UPI) -- The Moroccan capital, Rabat, celebrated Saturday
the marriage of King Mohammad VI and Lalla Salma Banani in a second day of festivities.
Mohammed wed Bennani in a private ceremony in March, but he postponed initial celebrations because of the Middle East crisis.
The royal wedding celebration, which started on Friday night and expected to continue for two more days under Moroccan ceremonial customs, took place mainly in Mishwar Square in front of the royal palace with displays of traditional dance and music representing the region.
Nineteen young men and 19 young women, representing the monarch's age, 38, danced and sang through the night, as 400 other youths from Morocco's districts joined the wedding inside the palace walls.
In another symbolic gesture, students of the Holy Koran, representing the royal family's commitment to Islam, joined the celebrations.
Some 1,500 people were on the guest list, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea, Jordan's Queen Rania, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son, as-Saadi, along with princes and princesses from the Arab world and Europe.
Former Interior Minister Idris Al-Basri and his wife surprised some observers with their appearance, as King Mohammad had promised reform in protecting human rights. Al-Basri was a prominent name in human rights violations in the country.
Absent from the wedding ceremony was Spain's ambassador to Morocco, Elias Salgado. He was the only foreign envoy to Rabat to refuse to attend in protest against the deployment Thursday of Moroccan forces on the disputed island of Laila in the Strait of Gibraltar.
A Spanish official said Salgado's "presence at the royal wedding has no meaning at a time of deterioration of relations between our two countries, and in light of Morocco's insistence on refusing to withdraw from the island it occupied last Thursday."
Laila, only 200 meters from the northern shores of Morocco, is disputed by both countries as their own. Morocco says its forces were there to monitor and confront secret migration to Spain.
Observers also questioned the absence of the bride herself from the public ceremony, especially after the monarch had allowed the publication of her photographs.
Some analysts said the indications of those present and absent showed anti-reformists were still more dominant in the royal palace than expected.
Journalists expressed disappointment at not being allowed to witness the wedding ceremonies inside the palace walls, as is customary.
Observers also noticed Moroccan authorities did not try to persuade the general public to celebrate the royal wedding, as was the case previously under Mohammad's late father, King Hassan II.
Residents appeared to have joined the celebrations on their own will across the country, as streets filled with people in decorated cars, honking their horns.
(Hussein Majdoubi in Madrid contributed)