Still bright-eyed after seven hours of hard partying: Olivia Hunt leaving the lengthy Royal Wedding reception
The serious partying began shortly before 8pm on Friday, when the bride emerged from Clarence House after four hours alone with her new husband.
Kate Middleton – now the Duchess of Cambridge – had changed from her wedding dress into a second Sarah Burton creation with circle skirt and sparkling diamante embroidery around the waist
For the public, the highpoint of the day had been the double kiss on the balcony at 1.25pm.
But for William and Kate the best was yet to come: a dinner and dance with 300 friends and family at Buckingham Palace.
Such was William’s desire to keep goings-on secret that some guests were required to sign secrecy agreements.
But from insider accounts, a picture has emerged of saucy speeches, pumping dance music, flamboyant dancing from our future Queen – and some cattiness between guests.
The first slip-up came at the Goring Hotel at about 7.30pm, when Kate’s mother Carole briefly lost her footing as she came down the stairs in a black tiered and pleated gown. She was steadied by her 23-year-old son James.
When William and Kate arrived at Buckingham Palace (at least 30 minutes later than planned), it was through a passage lined with flaming torches.
As the royal couple stepped into the 120ft ballroom, the guests rose and clapped loudly. Kate beamed.
The 30 circular tables, decorated with pretty white flowers, were named after the couple’s favourite places. There was Rhoscolyn – a village on Anglesey – and Tetbury, the Gloucestershire village near Highgrove.
Lewa, the Kenya game reserve owned by the family of William’s old flame Jecca Craig was there, as was Maun, a town in Botswana that Prince Harry calls ‘home’ on his Facebook page.
Dinner was sumptuous and above all British. To start, the chef Anton Mosimann presented Welsh dressed crab with miniature crab timbale, crayfish, prawns, salmon and langoustine.
The main course was Castle of Mey lamb with spring vegetables grown organically on Charles’s Highgrove estate.
Each guest was served three mini desserts on a single plate: sherry trifle, chocolate mousse and honeycomb ice-cream in a brandy snap basket.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kate was said to have eaten little. Her nerves are likely to have been frayed and, even if she had an appetite, the cinched evening gown would have given very little room for food.
In fine fettle: William's 'old flame' Rosie Ruck Keene (left) and Lady Rose Astor (right) after the lively party on Friday evening
After coffee and petits fours came the speeches at about 10.15pm. Prince Harry went first and then acted as compere, introducing Kate’s father Michael Middleton, then the bridegroom himself and finally two of William’s best friends Thomas van Straubenzee and James Meade.
Then came the party which saw the Queen’s residence transformed into a full-blown nightclub venue complete with strobe lights and, eventually, a DJ playing music from rappers Tinie Tempah and Dizzee Rascal.
Around the circular bar, guests drank Pol Roger champagne, Sambuca slammers and cocktails including mojitos and the Boujis nightclub speciality Crack Baby – vodka, passion fruit, raspberry liqueur and champagne.
No wonder the 85-year-old Queen and Prince Philip, 89, stayed away.
While the chatter was mainly about how stunning the bride looked, there were some dissenting voices.
One report claimed that William’s former love Arabella Musgrave made critical observations about others’ outfits.
And another source told the Mail: ‘Inevitably everyone was judging everyone else, especially the women.
'I heard one person say they didn’t like Chelsy Davy’s turquoise skirt at the service, though her night-time outfit was much nicer.’
For William and Kate’s first dance, singer Ellie Goulding, 24, gave a rendition of Elton John’s Your Song and the couple held each other ‘close but not too close’.
Then Miss Goulding moved on to more upbeat music, including Blame It On The Boogie by the Jackson 5, Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams, Superstition by Stevie Wonder and Mr Brightside by The Killers.
After ‘the oldies’ slipped away – Charles and Camilla at 12.30pm, Princess Anne and her husband Tim Laurence a few minutes later – Kate let her hair down.
She removed her fluffy white cardigan to expose her shoulders in the strapless gown, and danced with friends from St Andrews University and her stunning sister and chief bridesmaid Pippa, in plunging emerald sleeveless dress by Alice Temperley.
Kate continued dancing when Miss Goulding gave way at 1.30am to a DJ playing fast-paced rap and dance music with a heavy bass that could be heard outside the palace’s thick walls.
But of course Prince Harry – the Royal Family’s true party animal – was not to be outdone.
Reports that he crowd-surfed and danced on the windowsills were yesterday described by one source as ‘exaggerated’.
But such was the gusto of his dance moves that at one point he was said to have crashed to the floor.
Once he twirled Kate around so fast that it looked as if she might suffer the same fate, an onlooker said.
By about 2.30am, Harry’s partying rival Zara Phillips and her fiancé Mike Tindall had left, and the event felt as if it was drawing to an end.
Bacon butties were served and there was a fireworks display on the palace lawns, inevitably featuring a Catherine wheel.
William and Kate retired to bed not long afterwards. Yet many of their guests who left the party at this point looked surprisingly bright-eyed.
Among their number were Lady Rose Astor, wife of the princes’ friend Hugh van Cutsem, and two of William’s rumoured old flames, Rosie Ruck Keene and Olivia Hunt.
A long night ahead: William's godfather the Duke of Westminster
Tour guide: Harry provides commentary on the way to the Goring
Separate carriage: Chelsy Davy with Eugenie and Beatrice
By contrast, when Harry emerged shortly after 3am, he had lost his bow tie and dinner jacket, had his top buttons undone and was blurry-eyed.
He continued to play the court jester, clambering into a minibus and grabbing the microphone to provide a commentary for the other passengers, who are thought to have included
Pippa Middleton but – surprisingly – not his on-off girlfriend Chelsy Davy, 25.
They went on to an after-party at the Goring Hotel along with three other silver coaches filled with the most hard-core revellers.
A black Range Rover followed close behind carrying Chelsy, in a midnight blue one-shouldered gown, and Prince Andrew’s daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Beatrice, 22, wore a purple-and-gold one-shouldered dress with a bizarre missing panel at the back – but had swapped her towering heels for white pumps to ease her aching feet.
Other friends of Prince William had more energy and apparently gave each other piggy back rides from the palace along Buckingham Gate to the Goring, while swigging champagne straight from the bottle.
Carole Middleton, 56, is said to have lingered long at the after-party with her two youngest children.
One middle-aged guest said: ‘It was a lovely, lovely day. The evening reception was wild towards the end when I left, and left it to the kids – but it was a celebration for goodness' sake. And if you can’t let your hair down for a royal wedding, when can you?’
Additional reporting: Lydia Warren, Hannah Roberts, Eleanor Harding
Mother would be proud
In their speeches at the party, both of Princess Diana’s sons paid moving tributes to their mother.
Harry said she would have been ‘proud’ to witness the marriage of her eldest son to ‘beautiful’ Kate, who was ‘like a sister’. William referred to Kate as ‘my rock’, an echo of his mother’s alleged description of her butler Paul Burrell.
Harry’s speech also contained more light-hearted references. From the off, he sent guests into hysterics by referring to William as ‘a real dude’.
Mike Middleton’s speech was described as a ‘brilliant success’.
The father of the bride referred to William’s controversial decision to land a Chinook on the family’s Berkshire lawn as part of an RAF ‘training exercise’ in 2008.
According to one report, Mr Middleton joked: ‘I knew things were getting serious when I found a helicopter in my garden. I thought, “Gosh, he must like my daughter.”
‘I did wonder then how William was going to top this if they ever got engaged. I just thought, “What will he do?” You can’t get much better than that.’
The fourth speech, which came after 11pm, was the most raucous.
William’s friends Thomas van Straubenzee and James Meade did a double act in which they took it in turns to relay witty one-liners and anecdotes about the groom’s life.
Mr Meade is an Old Etonian whose nickname is Badger. It was at his father Richard’s party that Harry wore the now notorious Swastika fancy dress.
The pair’s gags are thought to have included mentions of Prince William’s stag do – and the time when he mysteriously wore a thong.