There was silence in Windsor as thousands of well-wishers listened to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say their vows – then the crowd erupted into cheers and popped prosecco corks as they were declared husband and wife.

Crowds of colourful royal enthusiasts from around the world flocked to the historic British town on Saturday, many of them gathering on the tree-lined avenue leading up to the castle.

People from as far afield as Canada, Australia and the Philippines waved Union Jack flags, donned tiaras, royal T-shirts hats and scarves, cheering and dancing as they watched the ceremony on big screens.”She looks beautiful – it’s a timeless dress,” said Denise Show, 46, from south-east England, as Markle emerged in a white sculpted gown with a long veil stretching out behind her.

When the choir in St George’s Chapel sang Stand by Me, the crowds outside joined in. The Long Walk was transformed into a sea of Union Jack flags when the national anthem played.“It’s like a dream,” said Theodora Torres, 71, who came from Los Angeles with her husband.

Harry and Meghan drew huge cheers as they went past in an open-topped horse-drawn carriage after the wedding, escorted by soldiers in gleaming ceremonial uniforms.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, with his brother and best man, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, waiting in the chapel before the arrival of the bride Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel. 2018. Photo: AFP/Owen Humphreys

‘Much more diverse’

Three royal fans in their 50s in wedding dresses waited for the prince at the castle gates, with signs on their backs saying: “Harry I’m here.” Lorraine Rains, 57, from St Helens in north-west England joked, “My husband knows I’m here but he doesn’t know what I’m wearing.”

Karen Long, from Texas, United States, said she felt compelled to come to Britain for the big occasion, given Markle’s American nationality.“I feel like she is one of us!” she said. “We all wanted to be a princess, we thought we couldn’t and there she is, breaking all the barriers.”

Royal wedding

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walk down the steps of St George’s Chapel after their wedding ceremony. Behind them are (L-R) mother of the bride Doria Ragland, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. Photo: Reuters/Jane Barlow

Leslie Owusu, an English teacher from nearby High Wycombe, who was sporting an African tapestry over her white dress, came with her 10-year-old son Prince.“It was magical. It’s been a historic, epic day for two amazing individuals to ignite a new generation of the royal family.“It’s a union of different cultures. You’ve got America and England and a fusion of two people that love people and life. It makes that global appeal so much more diverse,” she said.

Two Canadians wore maple leaf onesies, while others were clad from head to foot in the British and American flags as a town crier barked out a congratulatory message.“We have travelled a long way for a very, very exciting event,” said Jessica Kirsopp, a 31-year-old childcare worker from Australia.“It’s something that is probably not going to happen for a little bit, until (Prince Harry’s young nephew Prince) George gets married or there’s another coronation.”

One of the largest cheers from the crowds came when Prince Charles stepped forward to accompany Markle down the aisle, after her own father Thomas pulled out due to ill-health.

However, she made part of the journey through the church on her own — something many in the crowd applauded.“I think that shows she is a strong, independent woman and it puts (a) great message across,” said student Mary Grimes, 19.

There were also audible sighs when the big screen focused on Markle’s mother Doria Ragland, who was visibly moved by the ceremony. – AFP

Kiss

The newly wedded couple kiss on the steps of St George’s Chapel. Photo: Reuters/Danny Lawson

Royal wedding

Meghan Markle reacts as she rides in a carriage with her husband Prince Harry after their wedding ceremony. Photo: AP/Jeff J Mitchell