Royal Fever: A Canadian’s Experience at the Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan

VIU student attends royal wedding on exchange
Author: Erinn Sturgeon

If someone had told me that I would be in Windsor at the same time as Prince Harry’s wedding, I would’ve waved my hand in dismissal and laughed.

I still can’t believe how well the timing worked out. It was November, and I was getting ready to go on my exchange to the UK for the spring when the announcement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement was released. Like most of the world, I was excited for the couple, cheering them on as I watched them smile coyly at each other, their hands intertwined as they went through their first public interview together.

When the date and location of the wedding was released in December, I was ecstatic. May was the perfect time to go, and Windsor is only about an hour’s drive from the town of Hatfield where I was staying. Of course, hotels were all booked up and raised in price in both Windsor and the neighbouring town of Slough, so I decided to just make it into a day trip. I quickly booked my train tickets and waited for May 19th in anticipation.

For one day, it was a lot of train travel. Each way required three changes: I had to go from Hatfield to London, then take the tube from King’s Cross to Paddington station, then go from Paddington to Slough, and finally Slough to Windsor – pretty inconvenient considering how close it is! It was busy on the trains, but nothing that seemed too different from the usual hustle-and-bustle of London.

When I arrived in Windsor, I was immediately hit with an enveloping sea of Union Jacks and infectious patriotism. Magazines like Hello! and other media outlets were taking full advantage, selling Royal Wedding merchandise like crowns, flags, and branded water bottles on every corner. The local Marks and Spenser store was renamed Markle and Sparkle. Solicitors walked along the streets with heaps of flags on their arms, yelling “Come on, get your flag, only 2 pounds!” I was about two hours early for the wedding, but I knew the park was already going to be full, so I quickly grabbed lunch and a coffee at the local Costa and followed the crowd. With such a big event, there were many blocked-off roads, so there was a certain direction that pedestrians and drivers had to follow.

I managed to find a spot towards the back of the park. There was a large screen showcasing the event for us, and I could see it okay, even though I had some difficulties due to my short height. I had to move around a lot as I got stuck behind tall people, and at times I had to lift my arm way up into the air with my phone in order to record video or take pictures. But I cheered loudly with the crowd as each of the Royals and their celebrity guests pulled up to the castle, becoming suddenly overwhelmed when I realized just how close I was to them! And I was so moved when the whole park sang along to “Stand by Me” with the choir during the ceremony.

Leaving Windsor was truly the most hectic part – everyone was trying to leave at the same time! I made my way to the train station (where they were giving away little Royal Wedding-themed chocolates), and slowly shuffled along with the crowd as we waited for the next train.

I was exhausted at the end of the day after all the stimulation, but it was such an amazing experience that I will treasure forever. As someone who usually avoids large events like this due to the crowds, I was thankful that I went anyway and immersed myself into the frenzy with all the Brits. After all, how cool is it to be able to say I was there?

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