May 16, 2011 -- It was the wedding of a lifetime, watched by as many as 3 billion people across the globe.
In "William & Catherine: Their Story," Morton delves into history of the newest royal couple's relationship -- from how they met, their highs and lows, their engagement and the fairy tale nuptials on April 29.
The book was published just three days after the couple were wed.
Read the excerpt below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
It was a day to cherish. A day to look back on with fondness and with pride. Amid the heart-stopping spectacle and the pomp and circumstance, it was very much a family occasion. While the 1,900-strong congregation of royals, diplomats, friends and celebrities absorbed the spine-tingling moment when Catherine Middleton appeared at the West Door of Westminster Abbey, her mother Carole just about managed to stem the tear poised to roll down her right cheek. 'You're so beautiful,' whispered William the moment he first saw his bride after her long slow walk down the aisle on the arm of her father Michael. Crowned with a kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace – 'Oh wow,' said the new bride when she saw the sea of people on the Mall cheering and waving flags – it was the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge who was the undoubted star of the show. She had woken up a commoner in a bedroom at the Goring Hotel, and went to sleep – after an evening of revelry – a duchess, in a suite at Buckingham Palace.
On a day of bright-eyed tears, laughter and happy faces, the memory of the late Diana, Princess of Wales was in the minds and hearts of many. As one woman spectator remarked, 'When the sun came out just as Kate reached the altar we knew it was Diana.' True or not, the wedding marked a new chapter not only in the lives of William and Catherine but of the royal family, the hour-long marriage ceremony not just the union of two young people, but a renewal of the historic compact between the nation and the monarchy. The memories of the September day in 1997 when William and Harry walked solemnly behind their mother's funeral cortège were now overlaid by the sight of the smiling young Prince, hand in hand with his enchanting bride, returning along that same route in the 1902 State Landau to Buckingham Palace, ready to begin a new life together.
The relaxed, almost low-key approach to the big day – watched by an estimated television audience of 2.4 billion – was exemplified the night before when William decided at the last minute to go on a short walkabout, meeting and greeting well wishers camped outside Clarence House. Catherine was awake early. She hid her nerves beneath jokey banter, instructing her hairdresser Richard Ward that his only job was to ensure that her auburn locks were styled in such a way that 'by the time she got to the altar William must be able to recognize her'. Meanwhile her brother James had travelled the short distance to Clarence House for breakfast with his future brothers-in-law before they dressed in their military uniforms, Harry as a captain of the Blues and Royals, his regiment, and William in the striking scarlet uniform of the Colonel of the Irish Guards, a position to which he had been appointed in February.
She had other wedding gifts to bestow, showering the Prince and his bride-to-be with a confetti of titles. Before William left Clarence House with his best man, he had become His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. Plain Catherine was on her way to becoming Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. Meanwhile her mother, who was the first member of the Middleton family to leave for Westminster Abbey, showed where her daughter gained her poised fashion sense, looking sophisticated and stylish in a sky-blue crêpe coatdress and day dress by Diana's favourite designer, Catherine Walker. With a nod to her local roots her matching hat was by Berkshire-based Jane Corbett.
But it was her youngest daughter, Pippa, who really caught the eye, the fashion police and the international Twitterati going wild with admiration for the Maid of Honour's ivory vintage-style dress. Pippa, who kept the four bridesmaids and two pageboys well marshalled, was but the hors d'oeuvre for the fashion banquet to come. There was an audible gasp from the congregation, which included David and Victoria Beckham, a fashion designer herself, singer Sir Elton John, comedian Rowan Atkinson, Australian Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, film director Guy Ritchie, as well as European royalty, diplomats and politicians, when Catherine arrived at the abbey in a royal Rolls-Royce Phantom VI. The best-kept secret of the wedding was finally unveiled: the dress. As with other royal wedding dresses, it is instantly iconic and historic, marking not just the character of the wearer but the tenor of the times.
Nor did Catherine let anyone down. The girl who has been criticized for being too conservatively High Street chose the doyenne of the fashion world, Sarah Burton of the British house Alexander McQueen, to speak for her, her dress elegant, understated, beautifully balancing tradition with modernity, quintessentially feminine. The bride had worked closely with Burton, who has a reputation for meticulous craftsmanship, and who also designed her sister's dress. The designer later said: 'It's been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress and I have enjoyed every moment of it.'
The dress, which echoed the gown worn by the Duchess of York – later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, on her wedding day in 1923, was complemented by the Cartier halo tiara which the Queen had loaned for the occasion. The tiara, made in 1936, was a gift of the then Duke of York – his life made famous by the Oscar winning movie The King's Speech – to his bride three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. If Catherine was sending out a message, it was that she would support her husband through thick and thin, just as the new Queen Elizabeth had done when her stammering husband took his first tremulous steps as King George VI.
Excerpted from WILLIAM & CATHERINE: THEIR STORY by Andrew Morton, published by St. Martin's Press. Copyright © 2011 by Andrew Morton. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.