LONDON – The dress is packed away, the partying guests have left Buckingham Palace and Prince William returns to military duty next week instead of taking a honeymoon with Kate Middleton.
The newlyweds were praised Sunday for being aware their wedding was a luxury for austerity Britain and the best way to harness the goodwill of the people, who organized street parties, waved flags and lined London streets to catch a glimpse of them, was to get serious.
After a perfectly executed wedding, they made it clear their future married life will not be one long party. The decision was called a "welcome modern message" in a News of the World editorial.
"From a public relations point of view, postponing the honeymoon is a brilliant move," publicist Max Clifford said. "What it says is we have working royals, who are putting back into society, doing their duty and serving."
The crowds who gathered outside Buckingham Palace on Friday to watch the newlyweds kiss on a balcony were good-natured.
But London has also seen large protests recently against the Conservative-led government's austerity plans, which aim to cut 310,000 government jobs and raise university tuition fees. Some of the anger at the plans have been directed at the royals — Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were shaken up when their Rolls-Royce was attacked in December when a student protest turned violent.
In this climate, Buckingham Palace has been mindful of the need to not appear too extravagant, while maintaining the pageantry and pomp that is always demanded of them.
So, the royal family all turned out in designer clothes and striking hats, but the less important royals were taken to and from the ceremony in buses. Their main wedding cake was a show-stopping multitiered fruit cake with dozens of handcrafted sugar flowers, but Prince William also insisted on another cake made of chocolate biscuits.
Although the guest list was long, and included many diplomats and religious figures, the couple did not turn the event into a show business event by inviting prominent film stars and pop stars who didn't have a personal connection to the royals.
Elton John was there, but other major British figures like Paul McCartney, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren were left off the list. That gave the wedding a more serious look.
The entire wedding has helped update the public image of the monarchy. In the early days of their courtship, William and Middleton were often photographed coming out of fashionable London nightclubs, leading some commentators to suggest they were more interested in partying than becoming responsible adults.
Middleton's lack of a proper career — she once worked as an accessories buyer for a major chain store and then helped her parents' party business — added to the public impression of a slightly flighty young woman who did nothing but wait for William to propose.
The wedding and William's decision to return to work as a helicopter search and rescue pilot for the Royal Air Force has transformed them. William is now seen as a young man with a strong sense of military duty.
"The extravagance, the divorces, the remoteness, the treatment of (Princess) Diana and the reaction to her death have all damaged the royal family in the eyes of the public," said Mark Austin, a commentator for the Sunday Mirror newspaper. "But in down-to-earth William and nice, middle-class Kate, maybe the monarchy has chanced upon a marriage that can help it reinvent itself."