On Friday morning I headed to London to join in with the royal wedding celebrations. I’m not a monarchist, but I had no real quarrel with the wedding, and it’s actually really lovely that so many people were getting so excited about it1. Plus, the state of the world has been so unrelentingly depressing for the last six months that a big national celebration seemed entirely welcome, and I figured it’d be nice to be around the capital when it happened.
I wanted to see the Mall crowds, but the main entrances were already blocked off when I arrived at about half 9 (not surprising, given people had apparently been camping for two days). So I veered into Trafalgar Square, where my bag was searched on the way in – they were checking for glass bottles, which I guess makes sense, but that’s a new one on me for a public space. The square itself had two large screens and a stage, and the best viewing spots were pretty full, but the organisers had done a good job of keeping people moving around the edges. There was a jolly atmosphere, so I decided this was a good place to stay.
I took a few pictures, then found a vantage point and stopped to watch. The crowd slowly became more dense – I found out later they’d actually closed the square off by this point – and after a while I realised I couldn’t escape if I wanted to. But it was good fun being part of the crowd as they reacted to the events on-screen. Bells were pealing all around, and everyone seemed happy and full of life. It was a very pleasant place to be, and as the on-screen events progressed things became more exuberant. The first really big reaction was for William and Harry exiting Clarence House:
We could hear the roar from Whitehall as the car turned out of Horse Guard’s Parade, which was pretty cool. Not long after, the first sight of the Queen caused some manic flag-waving, but this was promptly dwarfed by the initial shot of Kate Middleton getting into the Rolls Royce. There were plenty of gasps as the dress became visible en route, and a proper moment of anticipation as the crowd waited for her to get out of the car. This was followed by some bemusement at the tv coverage choosing that moment to talk effusively about fashion and deceased designers.
My favourite point came when the BBC went properly cinematic, with a spinning wide-angle camera zooming in on the happy couple from the Abbey roof, just as the music climaxed and Kate Middleton reached the altar. There was a huge cheer for that. Once the service began aproper, there were more cheers after the vows, and a nice reaction to the moment with the ring:
And one more big roar after ‘I pronounce you…’. After this it became even more godly and was clearly going to take a while, so I drifted off. Others clearly felt the same, and the crowds began to separate, and I was able to slip out to the back to hunt for a friend, who I knew was nearby. I figured she wouldn’t be hard to spot, as she was wearing a wedding dress. But that’s another post.
- plus I generally react badly to curmudgeons, and there were a lot of anti-wedding curmudgeons. My favourites were the people complaining about blanket coverage in the newspapers, as if it’s 1995 and the physical size of a newspaper is in any way important. But anyway. Rant over. [↩]