Monday, May 2, 2011

Chasing the Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding. A once in a lifetime experience. And I was there!

The first sighting I had of the Royal Couple was on the balcony...OK, so the first balcony was Chiquito in Leicester Square!

And then the race was on. My plan had been to watch the ceremony on the big screen in Trafalgar Square and so, rather naively in hindsight, I aimed to get there around 10am, find a prime spot and watch the service that started at 11am. Hmm...not quite so easy. I had met my friend Lisa in Leicester Square at 10am, got tickets to see Dirty Dancing that evening, then turned all our efforts to watching the Royal Wedding. Our first hurdle was a police barricade at Trafalgar Square as it was already full and had been for several hours. OK then. On to Plan B...Hyde Park. We set off for Hyde Park, following the crowds and got as far as Marlborough House on Pall Mall, where we met another roadblock of police.

Weaving through the backstreets, we ended up on Piccadilly with the rest of the world, where we managed to see Kate arrive at Westminster Abbey on TV through the window of the Hard Rock Cafe (now there's a story for the grandkids!).

At Hyde Park, we came across some girls clearly hoping that Kate would be a no-show!

From our "prime" vantage point we saw most of the ceremony, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a lunch of Pimms and chips!

From Hyde Park, we thought we'd try to get as close as we could so we set out for Wellington Arch and Constitution Hill where we met yet another police roadblock. There was some excitement when the Horse Guards came past and Lisa and I resigned ourselves to the fact that that would be all we would see.

When the road re-opened, the crowd moved towards Constitution Hill and sure enough, more police. Just when all looked lost, the police line moved forward and we were almost running down Constitution Hill towards Buckingham Palace.

And yes, we made it in time to see the family on the balcony and the now famous double kiss! Yes, I know, we were too far away to really "see" the kiss but I was just too excited that after our epic journey across London, we had made it in time for the all important moment.

And it's fitting that my last sighting of the Royal Couple is also on a balcony...this time the right one!

After it was all over, the city had a very strange feel. Strangers had smiled at each other and bonded over a shared experience. No one seemed in a rush to leave the city and the crowds sprawled out all over St James's Park to eat their sandwiches in the sunshine. Union Jacks could be seen hanging out of almost every backpack.

Then, after Dirty Dancing, those still on the streets simply looked exhausted. Just like me.

So thank you, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I will remember this day for the rest of my life. No doubt you feel the same!

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