Belfast Telegraph

Royal wedding: The Northern Ireland locals heading to see Harry and Meghan tie the knot

By Rebecca Black and Kirsty Blake Knox

She may be in the middle of sitting A-level exams, but one Northern Ireland teenager is stepping into another world today as one of the lucky 1,200 invited to the royal wedding.

LIVE: Royal wedding: George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and the Beckhams among guests arriving for Harry and Meghan nuptials - live updates, pictures and video 

Daniella Timperley from Randalstown, Co Antrim, is among a number of people from here who will be joining the crowds at Windsor. The St Louis Grammar, Ballymena, schoolgirl will be among the lucky few invited to the grounds of Windsor Castle to watch as the bride and groom, and a star-studded guest list, arrive.

"We get to see the carriage procession and all the guests arriving, I'm hoping to see Ed Sheeran," she said.

Speaking yesterday before flying to London with her mum, Daniella said it was finally all starting to feel real. "I am more excited now that everything is sorted and we are ready to go," she added.

"But with more exams coming up next week, it is still all a bit mad."

The Lower Sixth former sat her first A-level on Wednesday, in health and social care, and has another two exams next Wednesday. Daniella wants to go on to study film production at Queen's University.

But it was her volunteer work that caught the eye of Mid and East Antrim Council and led to her being recommended for an invitation to the wedding.

"It was the end of March I got my invitation, the council recognised me in the media for being a finalist in the Pramerica Community Awards, and then I went on to win the all Ireland youth volunteer of the year," she said.

"They put my name forward to the Lord Lieutenant's offices and I was recommended." Wedding guests must adhere to a strict rules - men must wear dress uniform, consisting of a morning coat or lounge suit, while women are asked to wear a day dress and a hat.

Phones are also prohibited, and guests are not allowed to approach the Queen. Another Northern Irish guest is Phillip 'Barney' Gillespie (32) from Ballymena.

Barney joined The Royal Irish Regiment in 2004. He deployed on tours of Afghanistan in 2006, in 2008 and in 2010. Four months into his final tour, Barney stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while on a patrol. He lost his right leg.

"My foot was completely gone; I could see the bone from my shin to my knee. Straight away I knew that life as I knew it had changed," he said.

Barney is now an adventure instructor and also extensively works with The Soldiers' Charity, who he says were massively important in his recovery.

"I got the letter through the door - it had the fancy royal seal on it so I knew straight away it was important," he said. "I would have been watching the wedding on TV if I wasn't going, so I am delighted to be part of it."

Barney is bringing girlfriend Kirsty, and has been busy getting suited and booted.

"I got a three piece suit a couple of weeks ago for a friend's wedding, so I'm going to re-use it," he said. "If it's good enough for a friend, then it's good enough for going to the royal wedding."

The couple will arrive at Windsor Castle at 9am, along with the other 1,200 members of the public invited.

They will watch the wedding while sitting on a lawn outside Saint George's Chapel, and will leave after the wedding at around 2pm. The palace has advised all members of the public attending to bring a picnic basket in case they get peckish.

"We'll have some Prosecco and some sandwiches - nothing too fancy," Barney says.  "I'm really looking forward to chatting to some of the other people there and hearing how they got the invite."

Barney is unsure if he will get to shake Harry's hand after the couple exchange their 'I dos', but their paths may cross later this year when Barney competes in the Invictus Games in Sydney in archery and rowing.

It's very much a family affair for Catherine Cooke.

The Londonderry woman (53) and her daughter Julie-Ann Coll both received invites for their dedication to the charities they work for. Catherine has been working for Foyle Women's Information Network for 14 years.

Her husband, who is on a stag do in Krakow, was "devastated" he cannot attend. So she will take another daughter, Stephanie, instead.

Mrs Coll (35) was nominated for her work with child bereavement support group Life After Loss, having lost her son Mark in 2004 at 22 weeks old. She will be accompanied by her mother-in-law, Marcia Coll.

To mark the occasion, Catherine Cooke got a dress and hat made by Fashion and Textile Design Centre in Londonderry.

The dress is decorated with a city-scape of Derry, including Derry's walls and the Guildhall. "I couldn't believe myself and Julie-Ann were both invited - it's a real family day out for us," Catherine said.

Irish hotelier John Fitzpatrick is also at Windsor today to watch vows being exchanged. He was personally invited by Ms Markle, and will join the 800 strong royal guest list alongside singer Elton John, Priyanka Chopra, and Victoria and David Beckham.

Mr Fitzpatrick was introduced to Ms Markle by golfing champion Rory McIlroy, who nominated her for the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014.

He has remained in contact with Meghan, and she often stays at his hotel in Manhattan.

Mr Fitzpatrick was staying in the same hotel as Markle's Suits co-stars including Sarah Rafferty, and Rick Hoffman.

"I have known Meghan for a while," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

"I was surprised and flattered when I got the invite."

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