Wedding leaves Aussie media in a royal flush

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The royal nuptials blanketed Australian media Saturday, with dozens of souvenir pages devoted to every imaginable aspect of Kate and Wills' "uncommon journey to love".

More than 4.4 million Australians tuned in to watch their future king Prince William wed Kate Middleton, a much-hyped event that received wall-to-wall television coverage and was celebrated with parties across the nation.

The 1981 marriage of William's parents, Charles and Diana, drew six million viewers, an audience only topped by major sporting events such as the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony, which was watched by 8.7 million people.

Newspapers declared the wedding a "spectacular" success for the royal family, with pictures of the couple's balcony kiss splashed across the front pages under headlines such as "Love is in the heir" and "Once upon a time."

Souvenir pullout sections picked over every detail, applauding Middleton's dress and the ceremony's subtle tributes to Diana.

"Beaming with happiness and radiant with love, a remarkably relaxed William and Catherine Middleton looked like the university sweethearts they were and the modern royals they are," said the Daily Telegraph tabloid under the headline "An uncommon journey to love".

Noting that Middleton was the "first non-aristocrat in almost 500 years to marry a future king of England," The Australian described the wedding as a coup for "Monarchy Inc" which would "revive fortunes of (the) family firm."

"The monarchy remains capable of stumbling into scandal at any moment, but the wedding ... shows it has taken cues from corporate and celebrity image makers in a bid to more carefully craft its future," The Australian said.

The Sydney Morning Herald also noted the modern touch, describing a service "that entwined the most imposing ceremonial traditions of the 1,000-year-old English monarchy with the quicksilver immediacy of the digital age."

Though the guests, fashions on show and gossip were top billing, the economic boost from the event and even its carbon footprint -- more than 10 times Buckingham Palace's annual emissions -- were poured over in detail.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard received mixed reviews for her blue-and-white ensemble but was "warmly received" by Queen Elizabeth II for a private audience during festivities, according to Australian press in London.

Unmarried and a staunch republican who believes Australia should appoint its own head of state once Elizabeth dies, it was Gillard's first meeting with the Queen as leader.

Australia was colonised by Britain more than 200 years ago and retains the Queen as its head of state. Voters opted against severing ties with the monarchy in a 1999 referendum, despite strong republican sentiment.

© 2011 AFP

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