Friday, April 29, 2011

Inside The Royal Wedding

Originally published on

LONDON -- According to some estimates, almost one-third of the world's population will have watched all or some of the royal wedding today. Amongst the most hard-core of those watchers were the 600,000 people who filled local parks to watch on giant television screens, and lined the wedding procession route. Here's a report from inside that crowd.

06:30 - Sunrise has been rather cold and gray but that seems to have had no effect on the jubilant mood of the crowd. Many hundreds have been here through the night, camping out along the procession route. Setting up a tent and spending the night on a London street may seem a bit extreme, but campers were rewarded last night by a surprise visit from Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry.

07:30 - There are some nervous eyes looking toward the sky as the occasional drop of rain finds its way to a reveller's forehead or nose. It feels unfortunate considering the incredibly good weather London has been experiencing over the past week. But a BBC weather forecaster has just promised the crowd a break in the clouds just in time for the wedding ceremony. A cold wind is keeping people moving around, or perhaps that's just excitement. Outbursts of singing are becoming increasingly common.

08:30 - Already the parks and procession route are filling up. Meanwhile the first of the wedding guests are beginning to stream into Westminster Abbey. For those of us watching on the enormous television screen in Hyde Park, it is a case of trying to spot someone famous. Others are working on developing their own fame; news media from around the world are everywhere. If you've ever wanted to be filmed wearing a silly hat, this is your best hope.

09:30 - It is a party atmosphere, reminiscent of Britain's famous rock festivals, but with the attendees being far better behaved. Britain's police forces -- some 6,000 officers are on the streets -- are to be commended for their friendliness and goodwill in dealing with the hundreds of thousands out for the day.

10:30 - Our plan to move from Hyde Park to Green Park, along the wedding procession route, has failed miserably. Green Park, St. James Park and Trafalgar Square have all been closed. These massive public areas are full to capacity. Hyde Park is still taking people in. The throng of people now watching the giant TV screens extends at least 1/4 a mile.

11:30 - The wedding is under way. Each time the camera shows Kate the crowd goes wild. Many women are dressed in bridal gowns, men dressed in tuxedoes and top hats. Union Jack flags are seemingly requisite.

12:30 - The wedding is done. Will and Kate are man and wife. We have sung "God Save the Queen" no less than six times. Other patriotic songs can be heard among the crowds, as well as the sound of cans of alcoholic beverages being opened. It is time to party. People in Hyde Park are either attempting to disperse or -- more wisely -- settling into picnics.

13:30 - The family appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, drawing wild cheers from all watching. The quick kisses between Prince William and Princess Catherine (we have been informed that "Kate" is no longer acceptable) are met with flag waving and screaming. The flyover by a WWII bomber is a particular treat. A woman nearby screamed, "I love Britain," and had to sit down.

14:00 - It has become a full-on party in Hyde Park. More than 120,000 are singing along and dancing to a live band. The sun has come out and it's a good bet this scene is repeating itself in parks, street parties and houses all across the country. For one day, one moment, this country -- so uncomfortable usually with displays of national pride -- is taking a little pleasure in itself. The monarchy is safe. God save the queen, and the prince and future princess who will one day follow her. For now, however, there is a conga line forming...

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