Like millions of other people, I spent last Friday morning eating my breakfast in front of the television while watching the spectacle of William and Kate’s royal wedding. As I watched the beautiful ceremony, a part of me wished I could be in the city of London to feel the energy and to witness one of our generation’s most momentous occasions. Studying abroad this semester in London, my roommate Kate was among the millions who crowded the streets of London to see Will and Kate become husband and wife. Anxious to hear all the details about the royal festivities, I asked Kate to serve as a guest blogger. Thanks, Kate!
I have to admit, I wasn’t that into the royal wedding. When my friends heard I was going to be studying in London this semester, their first reaction was always to exclaim, “You’re going to be there for the wedding!!” And I always agreed that it would be pretty cool to see a little bit of British history, but it wasn’t something I gave a lot of thought; I was much busier preparing for all the other, more pressing matters of adjusting to life in a foreign country, and I just did not have time to give Will and Kate much thought at all. When I got to London, however, it was clear that people here didn’t share my indifference. Every souvenir shop, postcard stand, and magazine I have seen has featured the couple prominently on all sorts of memorabilia, from teacups to posters to dolls.
As the month of April progressed, the countdown became even more frenzied. Many native Londoners fled the city as hoards of spectators descended from every part of the globe for the big weekend. Every hotel was booked and every mode of public transportation was packed as the crowds and excitement level swelled. Additionally, news crews from around the world set up impromptu headquarters and began monitoring the daily movement of the royal family. Even before the wedding, everyone was aware of the exact time that Kate would check into the Goring Hotel with her family the evening prior to the wedding, and speculation about her dress was endless.
My friends and I briefly discussed camping out along the procession route to catch a glimpse of the wedding party, but decided a freezing cold, sleepless night was not the way we wanted to celebrate. Instead, we left our dorm at 7:30 the next morning and headed downtown to Trafalgar Square, which was already packed with red and blue bedecked well-wishers. All the streets in the area had been shut down, and temporary structures had been erected around the square. There was an enormous tent for the American news crews, countless souvenir stands, and most importantly, three GIANT screens surrounding the statue of Lord Nelson that broadcast early morning commentary on the preparations.
It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Despite the early hour, the sea of people was incredibly cheerful and unbelievably excited for the events of the day. As I stood there, some of this enthusiasm began to rub off on me, and I felt my anticipation growing. After a few hours of news anchors speculating on every possible aspect of the wedding, the VIPs and royals finally began to emerge. William and Harry, Charles and Camilla, the Queen and Prince, and the Middleton family all made their way down the procession route, from Buckingham Palace to the horse grounds, then down Whitehall and finally to the doors of Westminster. The whole thing was taking place maybe a mile away from where I was, and I could hear the roar of the crowd down the street as the procession passed by. Then, in the moment everyone had been waiting for, Kate emerged and drove the same route with her dad, giving us a glimpse of her dress along the way. By this point I was a total goner. I was so swept up in the moment, cheering wildly with the crowd and gasping when I finally saw Kate’s stunningly gorgeous dress.
I was so caught up in the romance of the moment as Kate walked down the aisle toward Will; it was a fairy tale brought to life. When she finally reached him and you could see him mouth the words “You look beautiful”, I thought I was going to cry. It was so perfect, and everyone was incredibly happy for them. I know it all sounds so cliché and cheesy, but the magic of the moment was real, and it was felt by the entire city and by the billions (literally) of people watching worldwide. After the ceremony, we waited around a couple more hours to see the famous kiss on the balcony, and we weren’t disappointed. They looked so happy and in love, and I was so much more overwhelmed by the moment than I ever thought I would be. I had spent so little time thinking or caring about this wedding, but now I am so glad I got to experience it. The energy in the city that day was so unique and frenzied and joyful, and the wedding was truly out of a fairy tale. I know in the scheme of world events this was frivolous and unimportant, but it gave so many people a much-needed excuse to be carefree for a day, and that counts for something. So Will and Kate, congratulations, and thanks for sharing your wonderful day with the rest of us.