Monday, 2 May 2011

Our Anniversary...Oh, And The Royal Wedding

Well, what a weekend that was! As I mentioned in my last post, Dori and I were heading up to London for a few days to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and since William and Kate decided to choose our special day as their own wedding day it became a double celebration for us.

We left home on Thursday morning, travelling first by bus and then by train as we made our way into the capital. Once in London we headed towards our hotel where we dropped off our luggage and then went back out to see what we could of the last minute preparations for the Royals’ big day. We went first to Westminster Abbey where the crowds were already thronging outside. People had been camped out both there and on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace for a couple of days by then, in order to secure a good view of the events on Friday. The world’s media was out in force, as you would expect, and we saw a number of recognisable faces reporting back to the four corners of the globe.

We were kind of looking for a feasible spot to pick to stand at the next day, and it was immediately obvious that outside the Abbey was not going to be it! So we made our way over towards Buckingham Palace to see what was happening over there, and how many rows of tents there were already! It was busy there too, but a little less frenetic than at the Abbey and we decided that we would look to stand somewhere along The Mall on the following day. We hung around outside the palace for a while, enjoying the atmosphere and watching another large section of the world’s media doing their thing :) Everybody was in a good mood and the atmosphere was already building. After a couple of hours there we realized that we hadn’t eaten properly all day, and so headed off to get a bite to eat, before then going back to the hotel to get an early-ish night before getting up extremely early the next day!

The temporary media centre opposite Buckingham Palace

So, the big day arrived and we got up and washed before heading out a little before 6:00 a.m. We took the tube to Charing Cross and then walked down through Trafalgar Square and on towards The Mall. A lot of people were already there and we quickly chose a spot to stand about ¾ of the way along The Mall. There were some people who had camped out at the front and then a couple stood behind them, but we were right behind them with a good view of the processional route. It was cold, and we had a long wait ahead of us. Luckily, the people we were around were all very friendly and the atmosphere was one of excitement and anticipation. The crowds quickly grew, and before we knew it we were absolutely surrounded by people, and were unable to move much more than just shuffling on the spot. I think we managed to bag our position just in time!!

The procession to the Abbey started at 10:10 a.m. with William and Harry being driven past us, dressed very smartly in their military dress uniforms. We did try to get some pictures of them, and of the subsequent cars carrying the rest of the royal family, and the Middletons, but they were all going just a little bit too fast for us to be able to get any clear shots of them. That was especially so given that whenever a car went past the crowd would get very excited and everyone would be jostled about.

The ceremony itself was broadcast via loudspeakers to those of us waiting along the processional route, with many a cheer going up at various stages of the proceedings. Before too long they were all on their way back towards the palace, only this time in horse-drawn carriages. Here are a couple of snaps of William and Kate, and the Queen and Prince Phillip. Apologies for the quality, but as I said before we were all being buffeted and we were trying to catch a moving target!!

Once the procession had finished we very slowly made our way up The Mall towards the palace. My knees wouldn’t have allowed me to go fast having been stood on one spot for nearly 7 hours, but the huge numbers of people there made that impossible anyway. By taking a circuitous route via St James’s Park, we were able to get ahead of a lot of the crowd and back onto the now-open Mall and walk towards the palace ready for the traditional appearance on the balcony. The crush of people was amazing, but very good-natured. We were able to get reasonably close to the front of the crowd, though not as close as when we went to Trooping the Colour a couple of years back :) Here are another couple of snaps to give you an idea of what it was like.

And then, once the royals had disappeared to enjoy their celebrations, we VERY slowly made our way away from Buckingham Palace and towards our own anniversary celebratory meal in Covent Garden. It was a really great day and, no doubt, one that we will always remember. It was very colourful and the atmosphere was wonderful. Occasions like this come along about once every 25-30 years, so we felt very lucky to be able to join in this time around.

The following day we had some time to waste before heading home, and so we revisited the scene of all the festivities as things were being dismantled and taken away. Here are a couple more pictures that we took that day.

Which just leaves it for me to say that I hope that William and Kate have a very long and successful marriage, and to wish Dori a very happy anniversary!!!

PS Dori has also blogged about our adventures over the weekend, with some other interesting photos. Check her out over at The Yellow House!
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