GREAT BRITAIN: Dearly Beloved

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In the Sight of God. Then a fanfare of trumpets split the silence, Westminster's choir sang Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven, and behind a parade of Abbey officials Elizabeth came up the aisle on her father's arm. Her face looked drawn and pale. "My, she looks nervous," gasped a lady in the nave, as the wedding procession carefully skirted the grave of the Unknown Soldier. Behind the bride, supporting her 15-foot train, marched her cousins, the five-year-old Princes Michael of Kent and William of Gloucester, so intent on their job that they tramped sturdily right over the sacred pavement.

"Dearly Beloved," began the Dean of Westminster, "we are gathered together here in the sight of God. . . ." From her seat on the sacrarium, the Queen time & again interrupted her seldom-failing smile to dart anxious glances at her daughter. She seemed less at ease than at any time in her queenly career, but once when Philip looked uncertain and alarmed, she flashed him a warm, reassuring smile. When the time came for him to step back, George VI laid his daughter's hand in that of Philip with infinite gentleness.

The Truest Truth. John Osborne, head of TIME's London Bureau, described the scene: None there will forget the deep greyness of the Abbey, subduing the gleam of the golden high altar, the light of the candles and the fire of many jewels, winking in the Gothic dusk. Remembered too will be the silvered sounding of trumpets, the great beat of the Abbey organ, and the belling voice of Canterbury saying: "Philip, wilt thou have this woman," and "Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, wilt thou have this man," and the girl's response, "to love, cherish, and to obey," audible only to those nearest in the Abbey (but clear on the radio), and the tall, tender and slightly bending young man as he said: "With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship."

Some will remember Winston Churchill, a confirmed romantic and devoted royalist, causing a stir when he rose in mid-ceremony to don his coat against the Abbey chill (did he, surveying the straight back of George the Sixth, have a thought for the absent Edward the Eighth, whom he loved and supported?); and tiny Prince William of Gloucester, restive in the long stances before the sacrarium and the high altar; and the King, quick to note the tiring of the pages and to help them with the bride's train when it caught on the marriage steps; and the Princess Margaret, lovely and still in ivory loneness at the center of the sacrarium; and, most of all, the sureness and reality of God Save the King when, at the end of the trumpets, the Abbey organ and the chorus hidden in the high arches sang the ancient and truest truth of England.

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