May 19th, 2018 was the day Meghan Markle married her prince and became the Duchess of Sussex. It was also the day I sprinted through Winsor to see it.
While many wanted to stay as far away from London as possible for the weekend of the Royal Wedding, my friend and I dove straight into the thick of it. I’m from Dallas, Texas and was studying in Leeds during Spring ’18. Being two hours north of London during the semester that the last adult member of the Royal family got married was once in a lifetime, we had to go. Especially since the bride is my sorority sister.
Most people in the US know who the Royal family are, but given that America doesn’t have any real association to the monarchy, people don’t adore them as much as citizens of the UK and other Commonwealth nations do. Being in London for this wedding made me realize just how prominent the Royal family members are. Nearly every store in London was selling Meghan and Harry flags, banners, mugs, cards, and even masks. Restaurants and pubs prepared for the special day by decorating accordingly and promoting specials for their watch party. Everyone was gearing up for the event, and many were hosting their own parties to watch the wedding on TV.
We went to Windsor on the day of the wedding, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. While London was surprisingly calm, Windsor was crawling with security officers. People were running about, trying to get a spot on the parade route or the lawn area where the ceremony would be played on a giant screen.
We didn’t arrive until an hour before the ceremony, so we sprinted around Windsor and asked police officers if there was any way we could still see the parade. We ended up about 30 feet back from the barricade during the carriage ride. Luckily, most people cleared out after the carriage went by, and we moved up to the front row to see the military part of the parade. It was still cool just to be there and be a part of the atmosphere.
One of the things that shocked me the most is how far people had come for the wedding and how long they had waited at their spot on the parade route. We met many English people, many of whom were dedicated to the Windsors and had been to multiple weddings. We met two older ladies who had attended William and Kate’s wedding, and even Princess Diana’s! Many others flew from outside of Europe just for the occasion, too. We met several Americans who chose to come in May just so they could see the parade.
We even talked to a girl from Australia, wearing a wedding dress and holding a sign that said “It’s not too late, Harry”. She was only in England for two days, meaning she travelled for twice as long as she actually visited the country! Those who had front row seats to the parade had arrived the night before or early in the morning at 6AM and camped out.
Other than distance and time, the most insane thing that people sacrificed was their money. The part of the parade route between Windsor Castle and the Long Walk was lined with multistory buildings. Those wanting to watch the parade away from the crowds rented upper floor rooms. We also found out that those window spaces went for hundreds of thousands of pounds each! I don’t think anyone would pay that much in America to see the President or an A-list celebrity.
Being in Windsor for the wedding was insane. I’m fortunate to have been a part of while the other 1.9 billion people watched it on TV. It made me realize how much influence the Royal family has over not just the UK but also Commonwealth countries. It’s amazing how much the Windsors mean to everyday citizens, especially William and Harry since people have watched them grow up on TV. The next wedding will likely be Prince George’s, now that both of Diana’s sons are married. Hopefully next time, I’ll be the one who flies in from overseas just to watch the occasion!
Author: Haley Arnold @haleyarnold03