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First kiss proves a popular modern tradition of royal weddings

The Prince and Princess of Wales were the first to seal their marriage with a public kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony in 1981.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were the last royal couple to seal their union with a public kiss (John Stillwell/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were the last royal couple to seal their union with a public kiss (John Stillwell/PA)

The traditional kiss on the palace balcony is as much a part of a royal wedding as the ceremony itself.

Ever since the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer delighted millions by sealing their marriage with the romantic gesture, royal newlyweds have puckered up in front of well-wishers in what is a defining moment of the day.

These rare displays of affection afford the public a glimpse into each relationship and the ease at which some, more than others, are willing to show their love for their new spouse.

The Prince of Wales and his bride, Lady Diana Spencer, started the now traditional 'balcony kiss' (PA)

When Charles and his new bride married on July 29, 1981, their kiss became one of the most enduring images in royal history.

The break from formality and royal protocol came in direct response to calls from the crowds waiting below the Buckingham Palace balcony.

At the time, Charles was reported to have said to Diana: “I am not going to do that caper. They are trying to get us to kiss.” Then, she responded: “Well, how about it?”

However, as the young princess arched gracefully backwards, her veil flowing behind her in a fairytale pose, her husband appeared rather less at ease, creating a slightly stilted embrace.

In 1986, the Duke of York and his new wife Sarah Ferguson shared their balcony moment (PA)

Five years later, the Duke and Duchess of York followed in their footsteps, appearing to relish their wedding day “balcony moment”.

A smiling and relaxed-looking Sarah Ferguson played to the crowds, putting her hand behind her ear, and appearing to mouth “what?” and “I can’t hear” before leaning in for a kiss with her new husband.

In 2011, it was the turn of Harry’s brother the Duke of Cambridge with his new wife, Catherine Middleton.

With the eyes of the world upon them, the couple’s long-awaited kiss demonstrated confidence and spontaneity. To the delight of well-wishers waiting below, they kissed not once but twice.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge obliged with not one, but two kisses, to the delight of the waiting crowds (Chris Ison/PA)

To chants of “kiss, kiss, kiss”, William and Kate shared a brief but loving kiss that failed to completely satisfy the crowds, who began calling for more just minutes later.

Once more the newlyweds obliged, to huge cheers from below.

There will be one key difference for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – the couple are marrying in Windsor, so will not be making the traditional balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace.

Instead, any first public kiss, if there is one, is most likely to be on the steps of St George’s Chapel.

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph