Married life begins for Harry and Meghan

Tony Jones

Newlyweds Harry and Meghan have begun their first day as a married couple after tying the knot during an emotional wedding ceremony that captivated the nation.

After a day that saw the couple seal their union with a kiss, process through Windsor in a carriage and experience a moving wedding reception speech in their honour from the Prince of Wales, they are expected to travel home to take up royal duties.

Harry and Meghan exchanged vows in front of 600 guests including the Queen, more than 30 royals and famous faces like US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey, tennis champion Serena Williams, actor George Clooney and his barrister wife Amal Clooney, Sir Elton John, David and Victoria Beckham and actor Idris Elba.

Elton John, who sang at the funeral service for Harry's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, performed at the lunchtime reception.

An estimated 100,000 people turned out to see the couple as they sat in an open-top Ascot Landau for a carriage procession through Windsor.

The royal family expressed gratitude to all those who enjoyed the wedding, saying on the official Twitter account: "Thank you to everyone who came to Windsor and those who followed from around the UK, the Commonwealth, and the world today. Congratulations once again to the newly-married Duke and Duchess of Sussex. #royalwedding."

The celebrations culminated in a black-tie wedding dinner staged at Frogmore House and hosted by Charles for 200 of the couple's closest friends and family.

In a touching gesture, Harry gave his wife a poignant wedding-day gift - an emerald-cut aquamarine ring which belonged to his late, beloved mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

The newlyweds are expected to return to normal life and bid farewell to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh after spending the night at Windsor Castle.

Meghan has already spoken of her desire to "hit the ground running" as she becomes a full-time royal.

On Tuesday the couple will join Charles and Camilla on the lawns of Buckingham Palace for a Prince of Wales 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration.

The outdoor event marks the heir to the throne's milestone birthday - which falls in November - by recognising Charles' patronages and military affiliations as well as others involved in charities supported by the royal.

Now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the couple will not immediately leave for their honeymoon but remain in the UK for a period before taking the traditional break.

Countries like Botswana - which offer stunning wildlife, breathtaking scenery and, importantly, privacy from prying eyes - could be top of the list.

But the couple may first spend a few days in Ireland, according to reports, making their inaugural overseas trip as a married couple to the Republic, while their honeymoon is put on hold for a period.

Botswana is a place Harry loves and knows well, and he reportedly whisked his fiancee to the southern African country in 2017 to mark her 36th birthday.