Having decided to spend the night at Buckingham Palace I had to deal with the consequences of my decision… sleeping in the open air, on the pavement… still at least the neighbours were quiet in their Palace!! I’ve never slept on the pavement before, but I can tell you now, it isn’t smart & it isn’t any fun. The cold & the hardness of the paving slaps simply meant it was an awful attempt at sleep.
After a couple of fretful hours of sleep, the sheer number of people who tripped or kicked over my feet on the pavement eventually told me to give up on sleep & to get my act together… it was wedding day!! It was around 0600 when I rose and gathered my thoughts. The crowd had swelled since I closed my eyes around 0330 and was now huge. As others woke the banter started to flow and I got to know a bit more about the people around me.
The old ladies to my left were from Yorkshire, I had Ester the Brazilian to my right, beyond them were a Mother & Daughter combo from Lincolnshire, beside them were a man from Venezuela with a Couple from Dublin. Behind me was another man from Venezuela & a lady from Kent. In the middle was a Northern Irishman (me before you ask)… so it was a peculiar mix of people who wanted to be there on the big day.
The day started out chilly, but as the sun rose gradually the temperature rose with it and so moods buoyed too. The younger of the two Venezuelans and the guy from Dublin were hilarious… finding good in practically everything around them. The Police Officers, the guests wandering around, the TV crews and the flags… at one moment they spied a ‘two-stick’ banner which lit them… “Yay for banners!!” they roared… only to then realise it was a banner with a magazine advert in the middle… “Oh, it’s an advert. Boo to the advert banner!!” The place was in stiches.
As the morning progressed, we also started chatting to the Police Officer at our section of the fence. It turned out that he was a Special Constable, was originally from Munich in Germany & had actually been working for the MET for 15 years. To be fair, I hadn’t noted a piece of German in his accent so was pretty amazed when he admitted to being from Bavaria… but then, when you think about it, given how German the Royal Family is, it made sense for there to be a few Germans about!!
Aside from his revelation, the Special Constable was rather good fun, taking photos of us & posing for photos for us…
Alongside entertaining ourselves with the local ‘Peeler’ the worlds media were milling about in front of us gauging the reaction from the crowd. We saw TV crews from Japan, Chile, Spain, as well as pretty much every major UK TV Station – BBC, ITN & SKY. As well as such wonderful companies, the Belfast Telegraph was represented by Victoria O’Hara… who upon spotting my ‘Clabby’ Northern Ireland flag came over. “Who’s from Northern Ireland?” she asked… making it known it was me, she then asked “And where are you from?”… pointing to the flag with the big “CLABBY” scrawled across it I tried my very best to not make her feel too stupid.
So we had a chat & she interviewed me for the paper as well as some of the other guys around. She was actually very personable and friendly… certainly the guys around me were all taken with her & later in the day when they spotted her across the road in the Media area of the Fountain a cry went up of “there’s only one Belfast Telegraph!” – needless to say I didn’t lead & I kept my cry of “thank goodness for that” under my breath. What Victoria wasn’t so good at was detail, as I discovered later on from my brother that the interview has made the Belfast Tele, but that not only had she misspelt Clabby, but she’d misspelt my name!!
The only person who seemed to sink lower than that in my mind on the day was a young blonde reporter from the ITN team… now far be it for me to say she was recruited for her looks rather than her mind, but when she was interviewing the elder gentleman from Venezuela she asked if he could say “Congratulations to Prince William & Catherine” in “Venezuelan”… the guy was actually taken aback… and said “you mean Spanish?!”… she just stared at him. To be fair, after that she only asked for messages of support for the couple from people by starting the question “in your own language…”
Eventually around 0900 the media were cleared from the road & the dignitaries and guests for the wedding started to filter past us in their limos, Range Rovers & with their Police escorts to hand. It was actually pretty good entertainment for souls who’d been there for 11 hours or so to play guess the country based on the flags on the cars. It certainly passed an hour quicker than the previous few.
At this stage energy was beginning to fade in the area where I was… the young Venezuelan and the Dubliner were much quieter, but it was just going to be the calm before the storm…