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Spanish Prince Marries Former Journalist - 2004-05-22


Spain's Crown Prince Felipe has married a former television journalist in the country's first local royal wedding in nearly a hundred years.

Prince Felipe wed Letizia Ortiz in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral before 1600 regal guests and dignitaries today (Saturday), including Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, Britain's Prince Charles and Jordan's Queen Rania.

Rain did not keep tens of thousands of Spaniards from lining the capital's streets to get a glimpse of the royal couple as they drove away in an armored Rolls Royce.

The two were led in a procession through central Madrid to a (the Virgin of Atocha) Basilica where the bride laid flowers at an altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The couple later exchanged kisses on the balcony of the Royal Palace.

Security was tight, with about 20-thousand police and rooftop snipers on hand for the gala, less than three months after a series of train bombings in Madrid that killed almost 200 people.

The lavish event was broadcast to more than a billion television viewers around the globe. Ms. Ortiz, a divorced 31-year-old, wore a fitted silk wedding gown with a v-shaped high collar and a 4.5 meter long train. Prince Felipe was dressed in his decorated military uniform.

Once wed, Ms. Ortiz became Princess Letizia of Asturias -- the first commoner in line to be Spain's queen in hundreds of years.

The couple met in 2002 at a dinner party and got engaged in November.

Thirty-six-year-old Prince Felipe's parents, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, wed in exile in Greece during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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