Having met the TV crews on the morning of the big day for Prince William & Catherine Middleton, eventually the time came to get on with the main event!! The Media were moved off the road and into their stalls to the rear of the public crowds and things got a bit quiet. People were getting texts in from family saying they were seen on TV or what the TV were saying… it was appearing as if everyone in the country was watching it.
Probably one of the first pieces of news to come through was news that Prince William had been given a few new titles… Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. Obviously the last one resonated with me being from Northern Ireland, where Carrickfergus is located.
The next main event was watching the Limo’s and Range Rovers going past of the guests going to the Wedding. Some even walked across the road in front of us – perhaps the less famous – presumably on their way to the Abbey on foot. There were even some rather grand mini-buses laid on for others which I’m not sure was impressive or not… it seemed a bit cheap for the Royal Wedding!!
Of course the main people who the crowd were looking out for were the Queen, the Princes and the Bride-to-be Catherine Middleton. Unfortunately for me, Prince William & Prince Harry would be going to the Abbey from Clarence House, which was half way down the Mall behind me so I wasn’t going to get a ‘pre-wedding’ look at them on their way. Also, I learned, I’d placed myself strategically well for HRH the Queen, but not so well for the ‘Bride-to-be’ as she would be passing on the other side of the Fountain both going to & coming back from the wedding with her new husband. D’oh!! Still my patience was rewarded when shortly before the start time of the service Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and his wife, Queen Elizabeth II left Buckingham Palace in their car.
Shortly after (well you don’t keep the Queen waiting, do you?!) Catherine Middleton left her hotel & made her way to the Abbey, via the Buckingham Palace Fountain and that was almost the end of the fun for us at the Palace.
As we waited for the happy couple’s return to the Palace, various regiments – including the Irish Guards – marched by and their military bands joined in. It really was something different to hear these wonderful musicians demonstrate their skill to such a crowd… and they lapped it up!! Eventually though, the guards could be seen to form a guard of honour along the route the new Royal couple would be taking – with their Sergeant measuring out how many yards apart they should be as well… military precision at it’s best I suppose.
Occasionally, across loud speakers, parts of the service were audible. For whatever reason, not the entire thing which was very disappointing. I guess it would have been nice to have watched it live, but I suppose sticking a big screen in front of the Palace wouldn’t have been the done thing either. Hard to please all the people all the time. We did however hear the marriage ceremony and a little of the choir which was beautiful to hear. It’s hard not to like a bit of classical choral music – particularly when it’s from your own country (the marriage was almost quintessentially British with all the flowers & plants from the UK and all the music as well).
And so they were on their way… and soon we knew they were on their way as we could hear the roar come up the Mall. At first we saw the Horse Guards on their magnificent horses and there seemed to be dozens of them leading the happy couple back to the palace. Then we could see the carriage hands (umm, I’m sure they have a better title than that, but I haven’t got a foggy what it is) and eventually the front of the carriage. Suddenly in to view came the young, happy couple, the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine Middleton no more).
Their carriage was followed by the next which carried Prince Harry and another which followed with the Duchess’ sister Pippa. What followed seemed like another few dozen Horse Guards before the carriage which carried Prince Philip & the Queen came into view. After another rash of Horse Guards another carriage appeared into view carrying the the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles, Williams Father) his wife Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall and the parents of the Duchess of Cambridge. They were followed into the Palace by another hoard of Horse Guards.
What happened next was that the police allowed the crowd to walk up the Mall (in a dignified and organised manner). As they got to the road around the Fountain however, the crowd around me got a bit restless. They seemed to think that they had some right to be at the front – but as one Senior Police Officer put it whilst explaining the plan to a lady near me “who said life was fair?”. As predictable as day following night, people started to jump the barrier once the police line was out of the road and it (for a moment) became every man / woman for themselves. One woman, running, tripped & went on her chin. It was for a moment rather ugly. As I had a view of the balcony I wasn’t for moving so together with a little band of others we held our ground.
Eventually the crowd calmed & came to a rest… just in time for the Royal Party to appear on the Balcony at Buckingham Palace. The rest as they say is history…
As it happened this time, there were TWO kisses on the balcony… I think a sign of the times as well as a sign of the love the young couple have for each other. Of course, there was another reason for the Royal Family to be on the Balcony at the Palace… a bit more manly I suppose…
The roar from the engines of these great British aeroplanes was incredible – I’m not sure the video does them justice – and frankly made the second fly past which came shortly after of more modern British fighter jets sound a bit limp.
And with the second fly over, the Royal Family gave a final wave & headed back into the Palace to start the private party for the wedding – and the anticipation of Prince Harry’s Best Man speech would soon be over for them. For me though, it was time to head home… it was only 1400… yet it had been such a long, long day. I actually got home by 1500 – which given the traffic disruption North of the River in London was nothing short of amazing… and so I got to that nap I talked about just a few days ago… and the Royal Wedding was over.
All in all, it was worth every moment, every shiver of cold and condemnation of the the harshness of the pavement. There won’t be many occasions like that in my life time – nor most of my peers – so to be able to say I was there is a great feeling for me… I just now have to sort out the hundreds of photos for my mother… maybe I’ll have that done in time for Prince Harry’s wedding…