Against all odds; A bystander account of the royal wedding in Windsor
20 May 2018
Wonder what it was like in Windsor on the day of the royal wedding? One bystander tells all...
Adam Šapić, brand evangelist for the Wedding Insurance Group and his colleague, Ves, had a mission. Go to Windsor on the day of the royal wedding and see the happy couple on their way around the town. But as they found out, things were not quite as black and white. Here is the story of what they experienced, including how people all over the world came together to celebrate this joyous occasion with the residents of Windsor...
Months ago, I proposed the idea of covering the royal procession after it became a popular topic of discussion among our clients. I have a particular fondness for live broadcasting and decided the event would be a perfect opportunity to create some much appreciated video. My colleague, Ves, joined me and so we booked our train tickets.
We drove down to Reading railway station whilst listening to BBC Radio Berkshire. Our heart rates increased upon hearing reports of a 90-minute wait to catch a train from Slough to Windsor. The pressure was on. Upon seeing the queue at Slough, I started to sweat, worried that we would miss the royal procession. Luckily the queue moved quickly and we were on the train within 40 minutes.
Then an announcement on the train informed us that the procession route was now full and that we would be directed to Alexandra Gardens to watch the couple on a big screen. “No chance!” I said to Ves, “We didn’t come all this way to watch a screen". After a quick glance at the town map on my phone, I decided it was best to try and sneak in any way we can.
We hastily alighted and started marching with a crowd south along streets adjacent to the procession route. Every time we tried to turn into a street accessing the route, there were barricades of police preventing us from proceeding. The pressure was building and the sweat was pouring. Onwards we went, determined to catch a glimpse of Harry and Meghan.
After repeatedly failing to access the route we came to a human barricade of security stewards. We were baffled as to why they had stopped us but then the cheers started to roar. Coming in at great speed was a convoy. We didn’t know who it was but I reached for my phone and got snapping. It was Meghan and we were one of the few to see her first as she sped into Windsor.
The adrenaline kicked in! We had to work out a way to get near the procession. Continuing south, we reached the very end of Windsor and started walking towards the tip of the procession route only to find scores of people walking away. One man told us he waited for two hours only to find out he couldn’t get in. The number of people was immense. We were running out of time and had no choice but to keep going south and attempt to cross a field in an effort to join the long walk.
Luck became our friend as we discovered a gravel path that led us straight onto the southern section of the long walk. Heading northwards, we remained silent while hoping for a spot as we came closer to the route. Lo and behold, there weren’t that many people. We managed to get a spot very close to the procession barricade where the royal couple were due to perform a U-turn back towards the castle.
Everyone was quite calm in the baking sun and we got chatting to several people. Some had come from Germany, others from India. The family behind us lived locally and brought their beautiful baby boy who was curiously looking at the scores of bystanders. I got my camera ready and waited. Ves was receiving updates from her family who were watching on TV back home so we had an idea when to start filming.
Then the procession came, the crowds cheered intensely. In fact, the noise was so loud it overloaded the microphone… the atmosphere was splendid. Harry and Meghan looked fantastic. I couldn’t believe it, after all that worrying and doubt we managed to see the happy couple.
As soon as the procession left, everyone poured onto the long walk; it was quite a spectacle.
We waited for the procession route to free up before heading back towards Windsor to join in the celebrations. There were garden parties and plenty of houses draped in bunting. Some residents had set up a pop-up shop at the front of their property selling homemade cakes and other refreshments while chatting to tourists about where they had come from.
The town had a distinct buzz of excitement. All the pubs were packed. It was interesting to see multiple cardboard cut-outs of Harry and Meghan positioned in random unsupervised doorways. Tourists were queuing to take their photos. There were plenty of businesses with congratulatory signs above their doors and other Windsor residents casually relaxed outside their place of work sipping sparkling wine.
Naturally, there were a lot of Americans in town. It was interesting to see British people waving American flags; one man had even dressed his dog with a decorative collar consisting of the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes. A British couple wearing Harry and Meghan facemasks were particularly popular with tourists who were lining up to have a photo with them. We headed back up the long walk, which now was one huge line of people. Many had chosen to picnic on the walk and applauded a group of event stewards who were walking back to base.
As we headed back to the station to catch our train, we reminisced about the day’s events. It’s fantastic to think how a wedding brought people together from all over the world to celebrate love, the very staple of life that keeps many going. The day itself will be a memory for life and it’s awesome to see how Harry and Meghan have transformed old traditions into new celebrations. We wish them all the best on their journey together.
Read all about how the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle unfolded.