After the wedding and that party, the palace pleads for privacy

William and Kate play cat and mouse with the press – and it's round one to the royal couple

The ink is barely dry on the wedding register but already the game of cat and mouse between the press and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is well and truly on.

Royal sources have told the Guardian that Prince William's decision to return to work as a search and rescue helicopter pilot in Anglesey this week instead of heading to a honeymoon beach with his bride was long planned. The media had previously been led to believe the couple would take a fortnight's holiday shortly after Friday's wedding at Westminster Abbey.

It seemed to be a classic piece of mis-direction intended to keep their honeymoon secret and a senior aide said the decision to delay the break had nothing to do with security fears in the Middle East, as was reportedon Sunday. Jordan had been mooted as a possible destination.

"We don't tend to do things last minute at the palace and we wouldn't have taken any risks with their security anyway," the aide said. "We are concerned to keep their destination private."

That extended to their British mini-break, which began at 11.15am on Saturday when the newlyweds flew from Buckingham Palace to an unknown location in the UK in the Queen's Sikorsky S-76C Spirit. The Scilly Isles and Balmoral were touted as possible boltholes. Their Macavity-like departure set the tone for a couple who are said to be keen to avoid the full glare of publicity in the early months of their marriage.

It also left room for their wedding guests back in London to pick over the bones of the wedding – the winners and losers, the spats and the love-ins which followed a service that David Cameron said was "absolutely beautiful, gripping, moving".

Tales from the eight-hour party at Buckingham Palace on Friday night began to circulate. Prince William, it was reported, introduced his new wife in a speech as "Mrs Wales" while Prince Harry referred to his brother and sister-in-law as "the dude" and "the duchess".

The pair began the dancing under glitterballs in what one onlooker judged to be a "twirly" performance. No well-to-do wedding would be complete without the presence of John Lewis, and so it was apt that the duke and duchess stepped out to a live rendition of the retailer's tear-jerking Christmas advert tune: Ellie Goulding's cover of Elton John's Your Song. The 25-year-old singer went on to perform versions of Bryan Adams's Summer Of '69 and Stevie Wonder's Superstition before DJs played Tinie Tempah's Pass Out and Bodyrockers' I Like The Way You Move.

Few did pass out and even Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall apparently kept going past midnight.

On Saturday, the bride's younger sister, Philippa, hit the headlines as "her royal hotness" after her appearance as maid of honour in a figure-hugging dress.

Already a well-connected party planner, her transformation into a star at the wedding looks set to boost her fortunes further. Less welcome might be the Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society page on Facebook, which has already beenhad been "liked" by almost 90,000 people.

Estimates in the Sunday papers suggested the Middletons may have laid out £250,000 during the wedding on dresses, suits, jewellery, hotel rooms and food, drink and parties for friends, although that did not account for the possibility of discounts from suppliers, such as the Goring Hotel and fashion company Alexander McQueen, which enjoyed publicity throughout the wedding that money could not buy.

There was speculation, too, about the business aspirations of the bride's brother, James Middleton, 23, who registered three companies in weeks running up to the wedding: Nice Wine, Nice Cakes and Nice Group London.

Other winners included Sarah Burton, the wedding dress designer who joined Alexander McQueen as a student intern and won almost universal praise for her chantilly lace and satin creation. "This will open up further avenues for McQueen and it may open up the possibility of her own label," said Sukeena Rao, a style consultant. "Women who may not have considered it before may start to look at the brand. She couldn't have got it more spot on."

Burton's name had already been mentioned in connection with the top post at Christian Dior, vacated after John Galliano was sacked in March for alleged antisemitic remarks.

In the aftermath of the wedding, no aspect of the day was left unexamined. Lipreaders continued their trawl over who said what in the abbey, revealing that the Duchess of Cornwall remarked "it all looks very posh". Perhaps it was, compared with her own wedding to Prince Charles in Windsor town hall in 2005.

The Mail on Sunday revealed it had obtained the 744 horseshoes worn by the steeds of the Household Cavalry, presumably including the one that bolted, and is offering them to readers as mementos.

Political commentator Dominic Lawson even advanced a new theory about the absence of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair: royal revenge because the former decommissioned the royal yacht Britannia when chancellor and the latter banned fox hunting as prime minister, which displeased the Duchess of Cornwall.

The ghost of Diana lingered. Jemima Khan, daughter of Lady Annabel Goldsmith, a close friend of Princess Diana who was not invited, tweeted during the ceremony: "No offence to Camilla but I'd have preferred – out of respect – that no one had substituted for mother of the groom at register signing." That fuelled talk of a rather aristocratic spat between the families over the lack of invitations.

The feelgood factor generated by the wedding was even enumerated in a YouGov poll , which showed that 78% of people think William and Kate will overshadow the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

In the face of widespread public warmth about the event, republicans took solace. "They are facing a problem of their own making," said Graham Smith, director of anti-monarchy group Republic.

"They would do well for the Queen and Prince Charles to stand aside, but they can't do that. William will go back to work this week and the attention returns to the old guard."

He said membership of his group had more than doubled to 15,000 in the five months leading up to the wedding and that 1,000 people came to a Republican street party in London on Friday. His group has some way to go yet.


Robert Booth

The GuardianTramp

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