Former Pendulum staff photographer Julia Murphy spent the spring semester studying abroad in London and had the opportunity to attend the royal wedding last Friday. While millions of people worldwide tuned into the event, Julia had a front row seat to all that was taking place. Check out her inside scoop on one of England’s most sacred and festive events.
A wedding is a joyous occasion, when family and friends come together to celebrate. The planning is tedious and there are endless decisions to be made but once the bride is walking down the aisle it all seems insignificant. That is, unless the groom is Prince William, future king of England, the bride is Kate Middleton and the guests are foreign dignitaries and the British royal family.
On Friday April 29, I was part of the thousands waiting to catch the first glance of the new couple on their way to and from Westminster Abbey. The Royal Wedding had been in the back of my mind since February when I arrived in London but little did I know that I would spend a night sleeping under London’s skies in preparation for the procession nineteen hours later.
There were screens set up in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square if I wanted to watch the days’ events from beginning to end but I knew that if I watched it on a screen I would ask myself, “Why am I not there?” In order for us to claim front row seats we had to camp out among the thousands of people already there. We packed bags, carried blankets and some even bought chairs to try to make our stay more comfortable, but despite our efforts we still slept on the street.
We were all settled by 5pm and bored by 6pm but the evening was just about to get interesting. Our camp was in front of Clarence House, where the princes live and acted as the wedding headquarters. First, Kate Middleton left Clarence House on her way to the Goring Hotel for her last night as a single girl. Later in the evening Prince Harry and William returned to Clarence House, got out of their car and greeted wedding enthusiasts. I was able to catch a glimpse of the ginger before he and his brother walked inside!
The streets were closed so people were able to walk, run and frolic in the streets without worrying about cars. However whenever we heard a siren everyone perked up to see who was coming, since important people (aka royals) always traveled with a police motorcycle. Trying to sleep in silence was not an option. There were campers with stereos blasting music until sunrise. To keep warm a few of us walked down to Westminster Abbey and back, the same route Kate would take just a few hours later.
The procession started with dignitaries rolling by in Jaguars with matching Land Rovers. The groom was the first to leave followed by the Queen and finally the bride, our first look at the dress. We all screamed, “She looks beautiful!” The car was completely made of glass so we could see details of the dress, her veil and tiara; it was as if she was illuminated! After she left it was a matter of waiting for her to return with her husband. Luckily, the ceremony was broadcast across the streets of London so we were able to hear their “I will.” Although we weren’t inside I think it was just as great to hear it standing outside Buckingham Palace with the Brits.
Finally, at 12:15pm, our standing for six hours, sleeping in the London streets, freezing was all worth it! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left Westminster Abbey, passed 10 Downing Street, disappeared from view while under Somerset House and rounded St. James Park corner to see their final destination, Buckingham Palace. On their last stretch up The Mall, where we were, they waved to everyone, including us! Prince Harry followed the best man in a separate carriage who caused just as many girls to scream, including my flat mate Leslie Hart who said, “Kate looked gorgeous but Harry stole the show.”
To finally see them married and in person was an amazing feeling. For months I saw their faces splashed across newspapers, magazines, posters, t-shirts and coffee mugs. Every day I read or heard about wedding details and I counted down the days in my head. The day had finally come! It was a fairytale, a prince found his princess.