Pop singer Elton John and his long-time male partner joined hundreds of other same-sex couples in exchanging vows under a new civil partnership law that went into effect Wednesday in England and Wales.

Mr. John and Canadian filmmaker David Furnish - partners for 12 years - took their vows in a ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, just west of London.

A large crowd turned out to see the couple, whose ceremony was held in the same building where Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles last April.

The new civil partnership law gives homosexual couples the same property and inheritance rights as heterosexual married couples, and it entitles them to the same pension, immigration and tax benefits.

The law took effect Wednesday in England and Wales, after becoming effective in Northern Ireland Monday and Scotland Tuesday.