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Kate in control, from the frock to the foliage


As has been strongly rumored for weeks, the former Catherine Middleton will not officially be known as a British princess. A few hours before the vows, Queen Elizabeth II named her grandson Duke of Cambridge, meaning his wife is Her Royal Highness, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The newlyweds also took the Scottish title of Earl and Countess of Strathearn, an homage to St. Andrews University in Scotland, where they met.

Bill Zwecker

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The woman now known as Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, was “completely in control of virtually every aspect of today’s details,” a friend of the former Catherine Middleton said Friday, shortly after the wedding at Westminster Abbey.

While Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles also were deeply involved in planning the marriage of Prince William and his bride, “Catherine made sure this was her wedding. She knows exactly what she wants and knew how to get it,” said the source, who has known the new royal duchess since their time together at St. Andrews University in Scotland, where William met the woman who would become his bride.

† One example: The trees that lined the main aisle of Westminster Abbey. Reportedly they were a toast to the countryside near Bucklebury, the village Kate considers her home town — where her parents live.

† Kate has been a lifelong fan of Grace Kelly, another “commoner” who became a royal. Granted, the Oscar-winning actress was an international superstar before she married Monaco’s Prince Rainier, but the now-new duchess feels an affinity with the memory of Princess Grace.

On top of that, she is a huge fan of Grace’s wedding gown — and instructed designer Sarah Burton to capture much of the feeling of Grace’s dress for her own.

† Before Burton, who is carrying on the design business of the late Alexander McQueen, was allowed to finish the dress, she and Middleton made several secret visits to Westminster Abbey. “It was very important to Catherine to make sure her gown and veil and train worked well with the architecture of the Abbey,” said a member of the Alexander McQueen design team. “They both understood the importance of the visual impact the gown would have — seen by millions today, and remembered forever historically.”

† Another major protocol change: William (joined by his brother and best man, Prince Harry) made a point of arriving extra-early at Westminster Abbey. “He wanted to spend those minutes actually chatting up friends and family members” already seated in the cathedral, said my Middleton source.

“He particularly wanted to be seen [by the millions on TV] warmly greeting his Spencer relatives,” added the source, explaining it was to give a clear message that he still is very close to his mother Princess Diana’s family — including his uncle, Earl Spencer.

NO VERBAL SLIPS: Catherine reportedly practiced one aspect of her vows many, many times before she said them officially on Friday. Whereas Diana famously mixed up the order of Charles’ various names, Catherine Middleton carefully pledged her troth to “William Arthur Philip Louis” — in the right order.

SHE WAS ALL YELLOW: Queen Elizabeth’s choice of a vivid and very bright yellow outfit — including her hat — it was, not surprisingly, very carefully thought out. My best Buckingham Palace source said early today, “The queen wanted everyone to know how happy she is about William marrying Catherine. She wore yellow — perhaps the happiest of all colors in the rainbow — to communicate her joy and approval of this match. . . . She’s absolutely delighted with this match.”

OFF THE LIST: While former British prime minister Gordon Brown is said to have been deeply hurt — by not being on the wedding guest list — Cherie Blair, the wife of ex-PM Tony Blair, was reportedly furious. Well-known for her strong republican leanings, Blair supposedly told one friend that the snub was “an insult not only to Tony and Gordon, but to the entire Labour Party. . . . The royals are supposed to be non-political, but by not inviting the two most recent former prime ministers, they made a very bad — and very political — statement.”

SURPRISE VISIT: Chicagoan Susan DeMint sent a fun e-mail early Friday. The self-described “crazy Anglophile and royal watcher” camped out on the Mall near Buckingham Palace all night Thursday — ensuring a good viewing spot for the wedding festivities. Much to her surprise, who should show up late Thursday night but current Prime Minister David Cameron (who, of course, was invited to the wedding). “He was very nice,” DeMint reports, “and only seemed to have one or two bodyguards with him — at least that I saw. . . . He explained he was there to visit the exact spot where he had camped out in 1981 — where he watched the wedding procession of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

“He did say he was totally convinced that this couple — William and Catherine — have a much better chance at having a successful marriage.

“He noted something we all know. . . . It wasn’t so bad that she was ‘Waitey Katey’ — gave her time to really learn what she was getting into.”

HONEYMOON HAVEN? The best bets for the site of the royal honeymoon are on either one of the Jordanian royal family’s very private resort estates or a home on the Caribbean island of Mustique — long a favorite getaway for Prince William’s great-aunt, Princess Margaret.

Jordan makes a lot of sense, as William is good friends with Jordan’s King Abdullah and his wife, Queen Rania, plus the Duchess of Cambridge spent a year living and studying in Jordan.

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