Royal Weddings are a lot of fun. I know from experience, you probably don’t. Patriotic fervor and scandalous gossip about Prince Andrew’s “fancy women” and so much more. I never dreamed of actually seeing the Royals, but I did, and I saw them well. Try not to be too jealous of me. Though, I’m sure you won’t be able to help it.
After a long day of stomping the London pavements, I crashed to bed and fell asleep immediately. I do not think I even dreamt. The next thing I remember was bright sunlight and my mother leaping from her bed shouting, “Did we miss it!?!” The panicked look left her face as she realized it was still six o’clock in the morning. Plenty of time, we thought, to find the perfect place to take pictures that would make everybody jealous with their sickening clarity.
I got into my new Royal Wedding outfit that I bought especially for the event. Navy cardigan over a t-shirt printed with thin stripes paired with a bitching new pair of light blue khakis. I looked every bit the sexy, modern, British sailor expressing his love for the sea–a love that is inherent in these fine peoples. Tremendously pleased with myself, we headed down to breakfast.
At the Trebovir Hotel, breakfast is served in a beautiful, sunny room in the basement. You normally would not consider basements to be particularly sunny, but all the buildings on this street have what seems to be a tiny moat around them so sunlight can easily pour through the windows. Every day they have the same meal and it is wonderfully good. A homemade croissant, Swiss cheese, ham if you want it, toast, coffee, tea, and cereal. It’s fairly simple, but perfectly delicious. Their coffee is also one of the most delicious drip coffees I have ever had. Normally I find them to be weak and insipid tasting, but this is robust and delicious. They also had packages of Seville Orange Marmalade so I swiped them all.
We got on the train and found that it was very quiet and very unsuspecting, highly suspicious. In my imagination there would be legions of people punching each other in the head left and right fighting to squirm onto the train, but that was not the case, we walked in and took an empty seat. Once on the street again at Victoria station the crowds began to develop. I knew exactly which corner to turn to get to the Palace because this shop always makes me giggle:
There were crowds aplenty once we entered the Palace gates and tried to find a spot. I was happy with the view of the balcony we had, but Ma was not so we went down along the Mall to find a better vantage point. It did not seem like one was to be found. The first spot we stood was inhabited by a tribe of giants. I’m not short myself, but I am not used to craning my neck to look up at people. This would certainly not do. So, we moved along the road and I heard somebody said, “God, what what you do if you just turned round an there was Prince William looking at you right then? I’d just die, I would. Die.”
Finally we found a decent spot around some decent seeming people. Most of them ended up being annoying, but they were all fairly short aside from Flag Bitch, my name for the woman who stood on a step stool and maniacally waved flags about–thrusting them into people’s backs and necks in her glee. I wasn’t a fan. Here’s a look at the crowd around us.
An uproarious cheer went up from the crowd each time a vehicle passed by. It didn’t matter if it was a security guard or a horse or a street cleaner–they screamed and cheered and waved their flags. It was wonderfully sarcastic. Then a girl in front of us started insisting we do something they called the “Mexican Wave.” I thought it was going to be something exciting and exotic, but it was just the regular wave. Lame. My enthusiasm drained from me at this boring, overdone crowd action. Here she is trying to get us motivated.
Nobody wanted to play so she shouted, “You’re all rubbish!” And honestly, we were. As the hours stretched on and we waited for something, anything to happen, spontaneous strains of “God Save the Queen” broke out and soon everybody was singing and waving flags and looking for a news outlet to photograph us. I didn’t know the words, so I kind of mumbled along. I knew the tune at least, so I could hum it. Flag Bitch clasped her heart and said, “Oh, lovely, oh that does the heart good.” She was really into it.
People nearly started a riot when we heard strains of music and then all of a sudden the Royal Marching Band showed up.
This got everybody excited. Then, after about another hour, cars and minibuses drove by and fancily dressed people waved at us. We didn’t know who they were or if we should be excited by them. We decided that we couldn’t be bothered, so we just watched them go by with a wave of flags.
There was a group of young German students standing with us who had slept in Earl’s Park the night before so that they would have a good vantage of the parade. But, they overslept and had worse spots than most of us. The entire crowd got a good laugh at their stupidity and our own obvious superiority. They were drunk, too, so I guess you couldn’t blame them. The girl, who spoke like a mouse in a Disney movie told us, “We go to pee now. Ok?” Then they scuttled off to the little camp of toilets in the park.
Another person was reading one of the papers and I read over her shoulder about a fight that had broken out in a local Tesco over the last package of celebratory bunting for sale. What a great story! Bunting!
There was then a clopping sound coming from down the road and the man behind me became very excited. “I hear horses! Or is that just someone clapping?” I about died laughing.
Prince William was supposed to leave with Prince Harry at 10:10 and a few minutes past, this car flew by:
It was Prince William! I saw him! He looked right at our area. It was awesome. The car flew past and everybody was saying, “Who was it? Who was it?” I didn’t want to shout out that it was William in case I was wrong. So, instead, I told mother that I saw him. I’m not sure if she believed me at first, but she did look pissed. A few minutes later, the woman Ma had befriended found a picture of him on her iPhone and it was him. I was right!
After this another set of minibuses came by and somebody in the crowd recognized one of the passengers and others were trying to verify.
“Who vas that?” the German guy asked.
“Yes. Of Spain.”
Another car flew past and I caught a glimpse of a huge green or blue hat, I wasn’t sure, but people started shouting out that it was Camilla. My heart about exploded with delight. Camilla is my most beloved member of the Royal Family. She’s hilarious, supposedly constantly drunk, and just ridiculous. I adore her and think we would be great friends. “Oh no, love, that was Prince Andrew and one of his ‘fancy woman,’” Flag Bitch told somebody in front of her as if she somehow could see better than the rest of us. “No, it wouldn’t be Fergie with him, Lord, No!”
“The Queen is wearing yellow. Yellow!” It was shouted amongst the crowd and immediately everybody was giving their opinions. Flag bitch beamed with glee and said, “Ooo, cor, yes, I do love ‘er in yellow.” Another woman said that yellow bleached the color from her skin, she would have looked better in blue. A woman beside her said that she had worn a blue hat to the last two royal weddings and that she certainly would not be wearing one again. A few moments later this car scurried past and the color was verified. Yellow, indeed.
I saw the Queen and Philip! I poked Ma, “Did you see her? The Queen!” She hadn’t and was now looking exceptionally displeased. The crowd gave another rousing rendition of “God Save the Queen” and finished it off with “Rule Britannia” which I was happy with because I knew the words thanks to Keeping Up Appearances.
There was only one car left, and just a few minutes late, Kate drove very quickly by with her father. I caught an absolutely terrible picture, but it is the only one I have.
The Procession was now over so we decided to take a break and then find a way to get a good view of the balcony when the newly married couple would greet the commonwealth.
I was serving fierce sailor realness as I marched around the revelers and groups of people having picnics in St. James’s Park. I love picnics, I wish I had thought to bring a picnic along.
There was a little fair in the park where you could get bottles of champagne, tapas, crêpes, belgian waffles, baguette sandwiches, and strawberries with whipped Devon cream. I wasn’t hungry, but Ma had the strawberries.
We then seemed to go over every square inch of the grounds trying to find the proper place to stand for the balcony appearance. At first we decided that the best place to wait was outside the gates on Buckingham Gate Road. We were told that these gates only might be opened and the guard on duty was so unsure that we did not trust him and decided to head back to the Mall near the gates. At least we would be able to see something there when they rode back on carriage.
By this time, the crowds had become enormous and it was very difficult to move, let alone hear, as the service taking place inside of Westminster Abbey was being piped by loudspeaker all over London. When we finally made it to the junction of gate and road we asked one of the guards when they would be opened. He told us that they would not be opened here. (I was getting concerned that nobody knew what they were talking about. Pointing us all sorts of different ways.) He said that they would be opened on the far end. We were doubtful, but he seemed authoritative and truthful so we followed his advice. (And thank the sweet baby Jesus!)
It was impossible to move. I was being poked and prodded like I was being examined by an alien after being abducted. Ma and I got sick of not moving, so we pulled a pretty impressive Indiana Jones-esque move and swung beneath the fence only to push ourselves back up onto our feet. It was pretty cool, except I stabbed a woman with my British Flag. I hurried away–sorry whoever that was, I hope I didn’t kill you.
We walked and walked and walked until we could walk no more and I could tell that Ma was pissed. She was beyond pissed, she was super pissed. She had not seen one member of the Royal Family with her own eyes and I had. I think she was seething with a jealous rage.
At the end we had another pretty decent spot to view the Royals as they came down in their horse-drawn carriages. I guess I did, at least. She still saw nothing and was getting more and more pissed. A clopping of horses and a scream from the crowd alerted us to something exciting, and out of the tunnel between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace popped up the newly titled Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Princess Catherine) emerged. I saw them clear as day, my camera lens did not.
OOOOO gurl, was Ma mad!
There was a group of beautiful white horses that clomped by next with soldiers in the most ridiculous golden getups. Sadly I did not get a good photo of that either. There must have been too much shade for my camera to focus properly. Up next was a sealed carriage with the Queen and Philip. I had seen her twice now!
Another sealed carriage went by and I couldn’t see clearly so I had to wait until after I reviewed the film to discover that this one held Prince Harry, his girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, Prince Charles, and Camilla!
That was the end of the parade and it was time to start getting impatient. Ma was beside herself–she had thought that she would see something, but she saw nothing, and let me tell you, it was not a pretty thing to see the anger building.
She was now more determined than ever to be in the crowd marching up to Buckingham Palace. She asked several police officers who gave her conflicting information. With the scattered details they gave us, we determined that this was the proper area to be in, we just did not know when the surge would begin.
Mother, though, has eagle eyes I was unaware of and discovered a gap in the fence as the rows of police horses and police on foot were assembling to lead the crowds down. With speed and determination we slipped through with about fifteen other people and waited, lurking. Several of the police noticed us and motioned for us to stay back.
They started forward with a bunch of scouts. You know I care nothing for children and group activities, so I took great glee in infiltrating their ranks with Ma and the rest of our clandestine group. We were probably ten rows at most from the police officers.
It was absolutely thrilling. There were over 500,000 people about to converge on the Mall and we were in the first 500, if that! It was so exciting. I can’t even think of anything that it compares to. We were all marveling at our luck and trying to figure out just how we got there. It was almost unthinkable.
Slowly, we advanced on the Palace. It reminded me of the French Revolution when crowds surged on the Palace of Versailles trying to abduct the Royal Family, or worse. If the crowd had become unruly, there was no stopping this great wall of people. We were like a wave rushing towards the front gates. We were impatient and thrilled and each step forward was so much fun. We wove to the cameras, cheered as the jealous folks on the street shouted to us, and commented to each other on our good fortune. When the Palace came into view it was absolutely amazing. Nothing in my imagination was even close to this reality.
Once we passed the main gates to the Palace things became a bit shaky and unruly. Everybody wanted to surge forward, but the police managed to keep things calm. They did a remarkable job considering just how outnumbered they were.
Victoria’s Monument sits in the center of the rotunda outside the palace and the place was a veritable beehive of media frenzy. It was crawling with reporters and photographers. They were snapping their cameras so quick and so many times that the snaps and flashes were a kind of rhythm that soon became accustomed to the ear.
We drew closer and closer to the Palace. I could not believe how close we were, it was unreal.
We stood still for a few moments and waved at the cameras on the monument. A few people kept pointing to a man in a bowler hat that they said was a broadcaster on the BBC. I don’t know if this is true.
And then, we began to move forward, it was perfectly coordinated, the two masses of people on either side of the monument began to move forward, led carefully by the police.
Then, simply, they could not hold us back anymore. I was moved by the crowd to my position. Perfect view.
Here’s an aerial shot from the Royal Family’s Flickr account. You can see us in it!
I know, right? The man next to me kept gibbering that it was like winning the lottery.
The crowd began to get restless as the minutes ticked down to 1:25 when the newlyweds were due to show up with the rest of the Royals. As time got closer they began chanting, “We want Kate…We want Kate…We want Kate!” I wanted to say, “Bring on Camilla…Bring on Camilla…Bring on Camilla!” But I don’t think she is as popular with the rest of the British people as she is to me!
Then finally, the crowd literally gasped and roared in approval, as the doors opened and out they came.
We were all starstruck. I don’t remember doing anything but looking at them, smiling like a lunatic, frantically clicking the shutter button on my camera and praying that something usable would come out.
The waved and waved and the rest of the family came out.
The crowds were getting impatient and were demanding a kiss. They shouted, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” So the royal couple obliged.
The did it again a few moments later and I caught that one on film. I will post that video soon. It is uploading to Youtube now.
I noticed Camilla pointing at something in the distance and I was almost sure it was the terrorists coming for us, but it wasn’t. It was the flyover, which was terrifying.
These monstrous planes flew right over the Palace, so close that I swear they might have hit the flag. I was so startled that I didn’t get a picture until they gained a bit of altitude.
They waved some more and then they were gone. William and Kate waved a last goodbye and the doors shut behind them.
Near pandemonium ensued as the crowds dispersed. Mother started up a conversation with a man named Clive, who seemed very friendly–a bit too much so, who chatted about everything at length. He wanted us to follow him on Twitter. Do so, if you are so inclined. Supposedly he is running for charity.
People were jumping in the fountains and leaping over fences and taking to the streets and children were lost and it was a mess, but it all seemed to clear itself up quite quickly. A woman’s exasperated voice sounded over the loudspeakers, “Please listen to me. Please. There will be no more balcony appearances. Thank you.” Before I knew it I was back on the streets, which were packed and onto the Tube.
Soon we were back in the hotel and both of us were very pleased with ourselves. I saw the Queen and William for the third time! (And Ma finally saw something.) It was a really great time and worth every penny we spent. I would have regretted all my life not going.
I now know where to go for the best viewing spots if the Queen were to pass away or something more happy like a coronation occurs, but unless Queen Elizabeth abdicates, I suppose she will have to be dead, so, I guess that would be joyfully bittersweet.
The only things that I am sad or disappointed by is that I did not get the chance to see Victoria Beckham, who was beyond fierce. Joanna Lumley was also allegedly invited, but I saw nothing of her. If I would have, though, I would have died. Just died.