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Prince William, Kate leave palace in helicopter

Prince William and his new wife Catherine left Buckingham Palace Saturday to spend the weekend at an undisclosed location. They have delayed their honeymoon and the prince will soon return to his military duties.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Prince William and his new wife flew out of Buckingham Palace Saturday after tying the knot in a dazzling display blending centuries-old royal tradition with the private moments of any young couple.

The couple has decided to stay in Britain this weekend, palace officials said Saturday.

William, who married Middleton on Friday in an opulent ceremony at Westminster Abbey, plans to return to military duty as a Royal Air Force helicopter rescue pilot in Wales at the end of this weekend, which includes a Monday holiday, officials said.

They will go on a honeymoon to an undisclosed overseas location later, officials said, stating that this is the couple's "personal preference."

The palace has not revealed where in Britain they have gone for the weekend. The couple are thought to be seeking privacy after the intense media focus on their wedding.

Earlier, officials said William has scheduled a two-week leave from his military duties for the couple's honeymoon, but no specific dates or locations have been announced.

Official photographs of the newly wed couple taken by Hugo Burnand, above and to the right, were also released Saturday by Clarence House, where William's father, Prince Charles, lives.

Image: Britain's Prince William posing with his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
A handout photo issued by Clarence House of Britain's Prince William posing with his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge in the throne room at Buckingham Palace Friday, April 29.Hugo Burnand / AFP

The prince and Kate Middleton, his 29-year-old girlfriend of nearly a decade, married in London's Westminster Abbey on Friday in a ceremony that captivated the world.

A million cheering people tried to catch a glimpse of the newlyweds as they rode from the abbey to Queen Elizabeth's Buckingham Palace in an open-topped carriage. One newspaper estimated the worldwide TV and online audience at 2.4 billion people.

Commentators praised the royal family for striking a balance between choreographed pomp and ceremony — military bands in black bearskin hats and household cavalrymen in shining breastplates — and personal spontaneity.

"The British still know how to combine pageantry, solemnity, romance (and wild hats) better than anyone else in the world," wrote Sarah Lyall in the International Herald Tribune newspaper.

'Sea change'
William, 28, drove his bride the short journey from Buckingham Palace to St James's Palace in his father's open-top Aston Martin with the license plate "JU5T WED". Their kisses on the palace's balcony carpeted newspaper front pages on Saturday.

"It marks a sea change for our country," wrote Geordie Greig in London's Evening Standard newspaper. The union of William and Middleton was "a much-needed injection of refreshment for the royal family".

Left-leaning commentators were less gushing but the overall tone was still overwhelmingly positive.

"There's Kate in the car, beginning her waving career with a tentative, strangely angled motion," wrote Zoe Williams of the Guardian.

A headline in the Independent read: "Across the nation they rallied to the occasion — even some republicans joined in."

British media were also awash with pictures of Middleton's sister and maid of honor Pippa in a slinky dress. "Is Pippa the most eligible woman in the world?" asked the Daily Telegraph.

Australia, Seychelles, Greece?
The couple has a wide range of honeymoon options when they do take a honeymoon, including a stay at Queen Elizabeth II's vast Balmoral Estate in Scotland, where they would likely have the privacy needed to evade paparazzi.

William at one pointed hinted he might take Middleton to Australia for a scuba-diving honeymoon, but it is also possible they would opt for a private island in the Caribbean, the Seychelles, an archipelago of more than 100 islands off Africa, or an outdoorsy trip to Jordan that would include a visit to Petra.

The honeymoon is expected to be briefer than that of William's parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, who combined a two-week Mediterranean cruise with several extended breaks in Britain.

Bookmaker Paddy Power has Mustique as the favorite followed by Jordan, the Seychelles and Australia.

The intense speculation over the couple's every move underlines the pressure they will face as the future British king and queen living in the full glare of the media spotlight.

Uncomfortable parallels have been drawn between Middleton and William's hugely popular mother Princess Diana, who was hounded by paparazzi right up to her death in a Paris car crash in 1997 aged just 36.

Her death and divorce from heir to the throne Prince Charles the year before, marked a low point for the royal family, which has also been embroiled in scandal and is seen by many as being out of touch with the British public, particularly during austere economic times.

But Middleton's background — she is the first commoner to marry a prince close to the British throne in over 350 years — and William's personable style have helped reverse the monarchy's rating in recent opinion polls, at least for now.

Not that the wedding was universally acclaimed.

"The royal family have too many rights in a country where other people are having their state rights withdrawn. We are funding a wedding of two people I've never met and I don't care about at all," said London charity worker Jessamy Barker, 29.

Middleton has been given the title Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, after the queen made her grandson William the Duke of Cambridge to mark the marriage.