Two of Prince William and Kate Middleton“s closest friends have tied the knot in a fairytale society wedding.
The sun shone on chartered surveyor Thomas van Straubenzee as he wed Lady Melissa Percy, the youngest daughter of the Duke of Northumberland, at St Michael”s Church in Northumbria on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately Kate, who is weeks away from giving birth was unable to attend. But the Duke of Cambridge, who looked dapper in a morning suit and tails, was an usher to one of his childhood friends with whom he attended Ludgrove Prep School.
PHOTO FOR GALLERY
Accompanying his brother as one of the groomsmen was Prince Harry. His girlfriend Cressida Bonas also attended the magnificent Northumbrian nuptials alongside 500 other invited guests. The dance student wore a full length blue and white patterned dress, blue velvet jacket and a floral hairpiece.
She arrived at the same time as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Cressida, known as “Cressie” to her friends, attended the Cotswold society nuptials of Lady Natasha Rufus Issacs and Rupert Flint with Eugenie two weeks ago.
Beatrice, elegant in a cobalt blue long sleeved dress, was accompanied by her long-term beau Dave Clark.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry”s ex girlfriend Chelsy Davy, whom he dated for around six years, acted as chief bridesmaid. The trainee solicitor wore a pale green dress embellished with intricate sparkling bead detailing and carried a pretty bouquet of meadow blooms.
Other guests at the lavish society wedding included Kate”s sister Pippa Middleton who shared a house with Melissa”s brother George at Edinburgh University. The aunt-to-be wore a chic monochrome dress by Tabitha Webb and elegant feather-detail fascinator for the occasion.
The blonde bride, known as “Missy” to her friends, left the ancestral home in a majestic gold and black horse-drawn carriage which is around 200 years old. The expert tennis player wore a stunning Bruce Oldfield gown as she said “I do” to her partner of five years.
The designer was the name behind her sister Katie”s wedding dress as well as Jemima Khan”s and Samantha Cameron”s. After the wedding, the dress will be on display at the castle.
After the 5pm service, a reception took place in the state rooms of the stunning Alnwick Castle, the Percy family”s 1,000-year-old seat. Dubbed the Windsor of the North, it featured as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
Guests, including socialites Astrid and Davina Harbord, Tara Palmer Tompkinson, Virgin heiress Holly Branson and TV presenter Natalie Pinkham, were to be treated to a sumptuous wedding breakfast in a marquee in the extensive grounds of the stately home. Celebrations were due to culminate in a spectacular fireworks display at 10pm which the public would be able to watch from the area below the castle.
It was not the first Percy wedding that Chelsy and Pippa have attended. In 2011, the glamorous duo were on hand when Melissa”s older sister Lady Katie exchanged vows with financier Patrick Valentine, also at Alnwick Castle.
The groom is very much part of the gilded royal set, having attended the same Berkshire prep school as Princes William and Harry. He later travelled to New Zealand together with the future King during their gap year.
When Thomas” brother Henry died aged 18 in 2002 as the result of a car crash, the royals were very supportive and became patrons of a memorial fund in his name.
Thomas” friendship with the Queen”s grandsons made headline news in 2011 when he was mugged while talking on the phone to Harry, who rushed to his aid with a police bodyguard.
Princess Diana was also a close friend of the van Straubenzee family. She was nanny to Thomas” cousin for a while and also holidayed with them in Cornwall when William and Harry were younger.
Even without the royal connection, interest in the nuptials would be high since the bride”s father is worth an estimated £320 million. Ahead of the ceremony, the family held discussions with local police on how to allow the public opportunities to share in the excitement while guaranteeing security.
The mother of the bride said the family wanted “local people to feel this is their wedding”.
“This is all about the loyal extended Alnwick family and we really want them to share in it,” the Duchess told the local media. “But we don”t want the guests to steal the thunder from the bride. This is all about Melissa and Thomas and we mustn”t forget that.”
Earlier this year Thomas and Melissa, 25, were guests at the wedding of Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mark Tomlinson in Switzerland, along with the Cambridges. It was during the festivities that expectant Kate was seen sledging.