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Community Champions thrilled to take part in Harry and Meghan’s big day

Local workers, charity volunteers and community stalwarts have headed into the castle grounds to celebrate.

Spectators arrive on the Long Walk ahead of the wedding (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Spectators arrive on the Long Walk ahead of the wedding (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Community Champions invited to share in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day described their excitement ahead of the royal wedding.

Charity workers, local volunteers, community stalwarts and those who have made their cities, towns and villages a better place to live, filed into the castle grounds with their hampers.

Tom Moss, 23, was chosen to represent scouting in Staffordshire and brought his mother Vicki along.

He said he is a big fan of the couple, adding: “I think Harry’s down-to-earth, and all the charity work that he does as well.

“It makes a massive impact. A good role model for younger people as well.”

Community Champions will take their place in the castle grounds (Oli Scarff/PA)

His mother said the outing is “just absolutely amazing”, adding: “We just can’t believe it, can we, that we’ve had this opportunity.”

She said it was a “once in a lifetime” event.

Another young man having a day out with his mum is Jack Al-Alawi, 16, from Birmingham, who was chosen for being a volunteer police cadet.

“Now I’m here it’s very exciting, much more special,” he said.

The teenager said he was looking forward to seeing the guests go in, especially the Queen.

The guests invited into the castle grounds were dressed in their finery with many laid out on picnic rugs or sitting in folding chairs watching the famous faces arriving.

Fans gather within the grounds for the wedding (Andrew Matthews/PA)

From their ringside seats, the crowds, some 1,200 of whom had been invited in recognition of the work they have done for their communities, watched the steady stream of guests arrive at the chapel.

Penned in behind rope but just a stone’s throw away, they grew increasingly animated as people began to arrive, walking right past them, the length of the chapel from the Round Tower to the Galilee Porch.

Many waved flags and cheered as familiar faces walked by, including Idris Elba and Oprah Winfrey.

“Oh there goes James Blunt, and James Blunt wants everyone to make sure they’ve seen James Blunt,” laughed one, as the singer paused to wave to the spectators.

To the sound of champagne corks popping and cameras clicking, the crowd, basking in the sun, provided a jovial running commentary on the guests’ outfits.

Many stood to watch the steady procession while others simply sat and soaked up the atmosphere, reading newspapers and sipping prosecco.

A few dipped into their “goody bags” – canvas bags inscribed with Harry and Meghan’s initials and packed with branded chocolate, shortbread, a magnet, a bottle of Windsor Castle water and a wedding programme, not to mention a voucher for 20% off in the castle shop.

On occasion, the crowd fell silent as they studiously watched the procession, trying to identify well-known faces and admiring the colourful parade.

James Blunt and Sofia Wellesley are among the guests (Chris Radburn/PA)

“Try and get to know your neighbours really well,” a member of staff yelled at them. “Make friends, sit tight, enjoy yourselves.”

Among those watching the day unfold were Anil Gurung, 30, from Nepal, who served with the Ghurkas and lost his leg after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2009.

Mr Gurung, who has been based in the UK since 2007 and lives in Maidstone, has been in the seated volleyball team at the Invictus Games in both Florida and Toronto and took part in a charity trek to Everest base camp last year.

“Harry is such a great guy,” he said. “I’ve had a chat with him, he’s perfect, just a normal guy. It’s a real honour to be here to see him today.”

Caroline Simpson, 60, and Kay Webb, 76, were invited for the work they do with local, Eton-based charity Swan Lifeline, rescuing and rehabilitating swans. Several of their volunteers are working on the trains this week to ensure stray birds do not cause any problems on the local line.

“We are just absolutely thrilled to be here,” Mrs Webb said. “Just delighted.

“It’s Prince Charles I really want to see. I just think he looks so happy these days and it’s rather nice that he’s walking Meghan down the aisle.”



From Belfast Telegraph