WINDSOR, England – Royal wedding fever took hold in the storied town of Windsor Saturday with a flutter of flags and divided opinions about the woman who could one day be queen.
Among the thousands who lined Windsor's main street to catch a glimpse of Prince Charles (search) and the Duchess of Cornwall (search) were staunch monarchists, Diana-loving Camilla-haters, and simple royal-watchers who buzzed with the thrill of witnessing the wedding of the heir to the throne.
Most in the estimated crowd of 15,000 cheered the couple. A few scattered boos were muffled by clapping and music.
"I just think it is brilliant, it is love winning through," said Louise March, 34, a web designer from High Wycombe, near Windsor. "They are clearly in love."
In the minority, opponents of the marriage worked hard to get their message through.
Yvonne Williams held a banner proclaiming her disgust: "Long live the queen. Diana forever. King Charles, Queen Camilla — never."
Williams, 67, was especially unimpressed with the prince's 57-year-old bride. "She's a ruthless man-eater," the woman snapped.
Across the street, Christine Wort held three black balloons.
"I've come with my balloons to mourn the monarchy," said a solemn Wort, 60, from Portsmouth on England's south coast. "I think they're an appalling couple."
In London, meanwhile, about 15 Diana supporters decked the gates of the late princess' residence with flowers and pictures.
A disparaging image of Camilla was removed, sparking fury among protesters.
Yet some in Windsor saw Camilla Parker Bowles (search) — who has said she will take the title Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales (search) in deference to Diana's previous title — as a distinct improvement on the late princess, who died in a 1997 car accident.
"I think it's fantastic for Charles, and I love the royal family," said student Jack Lovejoy, 21, who wore a homemade T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of the couple and the words "against all odds."
The commercial buzz around the nuptials began weeks ago with vendors hawking Charles and Camilla mugs, plates and tea towels. Many were stamped April 8 — the date the two were supposed to wed; the event was delayed a day because of Pope John Paul II's funeral.
On a cool and sunny spring day, thousands lined the streets to see the couple and enjoy some British pageantry and humor. The crowds began gathering hours before the midday wedding and were in a festive mood, waving Union Jacks and England's cross of St. George.
They had come from across England and from as far afield as Italy, Canada and Australia. A few die-hards camping overnight on the sidewalk to get the best vantage spots. They needn't have worried — by 10 a.m., there were still plenty of prime viewing spaces available.
Barbara Murray, who made a four-hour journey from her home in eastern England, was not disappointed.
"It's a great family thing," said Murray, 41, who camped overnight with her two daughters and two adult sisters. "Good old British spirit — boiling up your tea and so on."
A staunch royalist — "We normally go to the weddings and the birthdays and the funerals" — Murray gave Saturday's union her blessing.
"It's up to him who he marries," she said. "Whoever he chose wouldn't be the same as Diana. No one could replace her."
There was no shortage of impromptu entertainment for the throng. Hundreds clapped along as a band played jazz and rock classics, segueing from "Mustang Sally" to Cliff Richard's "Congratulations" as the couple's car approached.
After the service, a smiling streaker dashed across the road. He was bundled away by police, one of two people detained.
Charlie Ottley came dressed as a medieval bard to recite a specially composed wedding verse — an alternative, he said, to the official poem by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.
"Whichever way, one thing is sure.
"We seldom choose those we adore.
"Nor can we help the way we feel.
"True love's a wound that doesn't heal"
Alan Davies had hitchhiked from Liverpool in northwest England and camped overnight in hopes of snatching a photograph of the couple. He had harsh words for the hundreds of journalists who descended on this quiet riverside town for the big event.
"I wanted to get a picture of Charles and Camilla for my mum, but I couldn't because of the paparazzi in the way," he said.
Most people, however, were in a forgiving mood. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," read one prominent banner.
"I think he needs supporting," said Susan Sawyer, 50, of the heir to the throne. "It's nice he's hopefully going to find some happiness after so much unhappiness."