Royal wedding: Electric atmosphere and patriotic pride are order of the day
London awoke yesterday with an air of excitement about the beginning of a new Royal fairytale. After the engagement between Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced last November, it was the day two billion people worldwide had apparently been waiting for.
Walking through the city at 5.30am, London seemed to be wide awake and ready for the party. The night before an impromptu walkabout in the Mall by Prince William reignited a carnival feel that was to continue through to his wedding day. Rows upon rows of people had set up camp in tents, in sleeping bags and in deckchairs, some of them in fancy dress.
In the surrounding streets off Buckingham Palace people bustled around tiers of bunting, large flags and helium, red white and blue balloons adorning almost every shopfront.
An official Royal shop, filled with chintzy pale blue or lilac china tea cups with Kate and William's face adorning them, was proving a popular backdrop for photographs even at that early hour.
Workers for rival glossy magazines were out in force erecting flags, also adorned with the faces of the bride and groom, along the processional route. And every coffee shop, hotel or bar appeared to offer a Royal breakfast/tea/lunch or dinner for a “great price”.
Even before 6am a huge team of stewards dressed in bright orange jackets paraded from Buckingham Palace ready to help close off roads for the impending procession.
But despite the bustle, as light finally descended over the majestic Mall, some people found it hard to waken.
“I certainly don't recommend sleeping rough like this everyday. Bad for the old back,” Robin Styles, a father-of-two from south London, said with a wince. While managing to somehow sleep on the pavement wrapped in just a sleeping bag among rows of people was Siobhan Gallagher (28) from Dublin.
“I am wrecked. But I know I can sleep properly after this. I didn't want to miss it.”
This wedding has a different feeling to |other Royal |weddings
A burst of early morning enthusiasm to boost flagging Royal fans came from 22-year-old Francisco Rodriguez and Dublin man Mark Duffy.
“It's just a great celebration, everyone should be enjoying themselves, even the people who have to work today, this should be a party,” said Francisco.
Among the thousands of people who were on duty were the policemen, armed forces and the world's media.
For days the number of Royal fans in the city was being matched and even overtaken by the foreign media, who had descended on London. “This wedding has a different feeling to other Royal weddings,” one American photographer said.
“It's a new generation of young Royals, that's why we are interested. And he is Diana's son.”
Just after 8am music bellowed out through the speakers in the Mall creating a huge sense of excitement that the wedding was finally beginning.
As each official Royal car travelled to the 11am service the cheers got louder, the loudest however, was saved for when the warm sun shone through the clouds as the bride arrived at Westminster Abbey.
As the ceremony began the excitement seemed to be replaced by a sense of patriotic pride.
Hundreds of thousands of Union Jacks were waved in unison to the beautiful music and massive cheers erupted as the couple's “I do’s” echoed across the Mall.
The electric atmosphere intensified as the married couple returned with huge pomp and ceremony in an open top carriage. Their smiles and waves sparked hundreds of thousands of camera flashes from the crowds wanting to try and catch that historic moment.
As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge finally appeared on the balcony to huge cheers, they sealed the moment with the hugely anticipated kiss.
Looking back on her day, Emma Patterson from Tandragee, Co Armagh, said the highlight for her was getting a first glimpse of Kate.
“She looked absolutely beautiful,” she said.
“And also managing to get to see the two kisses on the balcony was just wonderful.
Michelle Annett from Co Down said it was “a fantastic experience”, adding: “They got married in a traditional way but with a modern twist.”