The Royal Wedding
The Royal Wedding of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms. Meghan Markle St. George’s Chapel | Windsor Castle 19 May 2018 An account by Mr. Andrew Lannerd | Transcendent Travel
Sometimes in life there are experiences that stand out. Days that are so special that you want to capture every moment in your memory. My experiences surrounding the royal wedding on the 19th of May 2018 are just that.
In late March I received word that an invite had been extended to me to be at Windsor Castle to view the royal wedding on 19 May.
Before that news arrived, I was aware that in addition to the 600 guests inside St. George’s Chapel, there would be additional guests that would be invited to Windsor Castle to share the day with the couple and to view the festivities surrounding the wedding.
When this was announced, the statement read as follows:
1,200 members of the public from every corner of the United Kingdom will be invited to Windsor Castle. They will be chosen by nine regional Lord Lieutenant offices. The couple has asked that the people chosen are from a broad range of backgrounds and ages, including young people who have shown strong leadership, and those who have served their communities.
A further 200 people from Prince Harry’s charities, 100 school pupils, 610 Windsor Castle community members, and 530 members and guests of the Royal Household and Crown Estate will also get the coveted invites.
Luckily for me, I was a recipient of one of the “coveted invites” via the Royal Household’s allocation of guests.
When news of the invitation arrived, I naturally looked towards the event with great anticipation.
I was all too aware that the eyes of 1.9 billion people would be on a royal wedding that I had been given special access to view.
A few weeks prior to the big day, the invitation, security cards and detailed instructions arrived. (pictured right)
This information outlined arrival times, necessary items to bring (and what not to bring), as well as attire.
Being a meticulous planner, I started planning the day.
I would stay overnight the evening before in Ascot. I chose Ascot for proximity. Close yet far enough away from what I knew would be the enormous crowds in Windsor. This was indeed the right choice to make as on the morning of the wedding, I was driven to Windsor via quiet roads, instead of the roads on the other side of Windsor which were clogged with those traveling in from London.
On Thursday 18 May in the afternoon, I arrived in Windsor, where the town was alive with excitement. Many people (including friends) were already camped out in the streets to view the carriage procession that would take place the next day.
The town was decorated with bunting, flags and people eager to be a part of this historical occasion. It quickly brought to my mind the value of the present British Royal Family to bring people together to celebrate - no matter their background in life. With all of the negative news in today’s world, I feel this is becoming ever more important.
On the day of the wedding, I arrived very early to Windsor as I wanted to be one of the first guests into the security queue and sure enough I was.
As soon as I arrived in Windsor, I walked thru the streets and talked to a few people in the crowds that had camped out for their positions. I was struck by their jovial moods and eagerness to make the most of the occasion.
At 8:00am myself and other invited guests were allowed into the castle. After going through security, we were welcomed with a very special goodie bag – which was filled with lovely things.
We were also given a special badge featuring the initials of the couple. (pictured below)
When I arrived to the lower ward of the castle, I took up my viewing position, and right away there were many things to see.
As I waited, it was a feast for the eyes in front of me with hats, lovely outfits, flowers being taken into the chapel as well as military processions – all while we enjoyed the atmosphere and the beautiful prelude music coming from the chapel.
From my vantage point I could see all of the guests arriving. I was most interested in seeing the members of the Royal Family, but in addition I could see various celebrities arriving including George Clooney, David & Victoria Beckham, Serena Williams as well as Oprah Winfrey who after the service said to a few of us “wasn’t that fun?!”.
As time came closer for the service to begin, I viewed members of the Royal Family arriving, followed by Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge. I thought Harry looked a tad nervous as he passed, but that would of course be expected.
We enjoyed the arrival of the bride’s mother, and later the last guest arrivals being Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who it was great to see walking so well following his hip replacement a few weeks earlier.
Then it was time for the bride to drive past on her way to the West Door of St. Georges’ Chapel as well as the arrival of the Bridesmaids and Page Boys – including Prince George and Princess Charlotte who I clearly got to see waving as they passed by.
As the service started, myself and other guests enjoyed singing along with the service as we were provided with printed orders of service. There was a rousing cheer from myself and the crowd as the couple said “I do”. Because some of the chapel windows were open - the congregation inside obviously heard our cheer. It was a delight when we could hear a laugh back from the chapel congregation in reply.
We enjoyed the service, and then of course all stood to attention at the end of the service to sing “God Save the Queen”.
As the service ended, I had a close and clear view of the entire royal family as they gathered at the Galilee Porch.
Over the years at various royal events I have seen as well as met members of the Royal Family, but I must say it was surreal to see the entire family in front of me for some time – all while a gospel choir was singing in the background.
Then the newly created Duke & Duchess of Sussex passed by in an Ascot landau carriage all while we and the entire Royal Family waved to them.
Following the service, it was lovely to go inside the chapel to see the incredible flower displays inside – which were just glorious.
What a surreal day it was.
At times it was so quiet inside the castle that I forgot that there were hundreds of thousands of people gathered outside and that the eyes of 1.9 billion people were on the service. At times it had a “family wedding” feel to those of us in the castle. It really did.
I wish the new Duke & Duchess of Sussex every happiness in the years to come, and I am so honored that I had a chance to be part of their special day at Windsor Castle.