Whether you are a Royal supporter or not, there will be no escaping what feels like the biggest event of the decade in England; the Royal Wedding. The crowds are buzzing, union jacks are out in force and the atmosphere feels extremely British; and that is all from inside my living room! I must confess, though I am in the capital I haven’t braved it down to London’s Hyde Park where huge crowds have been gathered since early this morning, and I wasn’t quite keen enough to join the ultra-fans who arrived to camp outside Buckingham Palace two days ago.
Footage early this morning showed troops of fans emerging from their tents, looking slightly battered and tired but extremely excited and happy nonetheless. All around the country, street parties are gearing up and parks are filling up with flag-waving royal watchers eager to make the most of their day off and celebrate the happy event. Here, I will bring you the live version of events.
9.15am – Guests are starting to throng into Westminster Abbey to await the arrival of the bride and groom, and we have just seen the first pictures of David and Victoria Beckham! Victoria is wearing a sleek navy blue shift dress with her hair tied in an elegant ponytail under a navy pillbox hat, walking slowly towards the Abbey with David and the other guests. The weather is London is pretty grey and gloomy, but in true British style, the crowds are expected to stick it out despite forecasts of showers later in the day. The latest announcements to the press are about William and Kate’s (or Catherine, as she will now be known) new titles, given to them by the Queen for the occasion. William will become the Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, while Kate’s official title will be the Duchess of Cambridge.
10 – ‘We want Will’ is the chant from the Mall, where crowds are already hundreds deep with magnificent displays of flag waving. William is due to arrive any minute, to circulate with guests in the Abbey before his bride arrives.
10.15 – William and Harry have left for the Abbey in their crown-topped car, looking calm and collected, waving at the crowds as they drive down the wide Mall with fans cheering ecstatically on either side.
10.30 – Kate’s mother, Carole Middleton, and her brother James have arrived at the Abbey; Carole wearing a Catherine Walker powder blue suit and hat, in a nod to Princess Diana who often used to wear the same designer. Trumpets salute the car of Princess Beatrice and Eugenie, the younger cousins of William and Harry. Other Royals attending include the King of Tonga and the King of Norway, becoming part of a truly royal imperial occasion. The Prime Minster and his wife Samantha are sitting up in the choir of the Abbey, and other notables spotted in the crowd are Elton John and David Furnish.
10.40 – Travelling in a 1950 Phantom 4 car next is William’s father and step-mother, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in an Anna Valentine champagne silk dress. Later this evening, Charles will be hosting a reception at Buckingham Palace for around 300 special guests of the couple.
10.42 – The state trumpeter marks the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s journey towards the Abbey; the monarch attended her 81st birthday last week and looks resplendent today in an Angela Kelly primrose yellow. Next year, expect to see equal celebrations along the Mall when the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee.
10.50 – We have seen the first shots of Kate in the car on her way from the Goring hotel where she spent the night, her hair half up, and the top of her dress is gorgeous lace with lace sleeves and a simple silk tulle veil, looking almost Grace Kelly-esque. Meanwhile her sister Pippa is leading the little bridesmaids into the Abbey, looking stunning in a sleek cream dress.
11 – We have just heard that Kate’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, her French Chantilly lace veil held in place by a halo tiara. Her train is modest, but perfectly proportioned, at 2.17metres. Prince William enters the church to ‘I was glad’ by Sir Charles Hubert Parry, and Kate slowly starts the four minute walk down the aisle, on the arm of her father Michael.
11.15 – After the first hymn, ‘Guide me Oh thou great redeemer’, the couple exchange their vows, looking nervous, but sounding calm. The priest binds their hands together and Kate receives her ring. James Middleton, Kate’s brother, reads from Romans 12 , verses 1, 2 9-18. The stirring music must be sending a shiver down the spine of everyone in the church; Ubi Caritas by Paul Mealor is a gentle melody that sounds so beautiful in the Abbey.
11.50 – After a round of God Save the Queen, the newlywed couple will sign three royal registers in the chapel of St Edward the Confessor, the most sacred part of Westminster Abbey.
12 – The bride and groom emerge holding hands and walk down the aisle; their nerves must be going now and they can start to look forward to the party ahead. Harry and Pippa follow, arm in arm, with the 4 little bridesmaids and 2 page boys in between. To the tolling of the Westminster Bells, they pause on the steps of the Abbey to wild cheers from the crowds, before stepping into their carriage. Escorted by the Guard of Honour and with all the pomp and gold that has always been associated with royalty, the couple process along the Mall towards the Palace. Happily the weather has held off so they can use their open-topped carriage, allowing all the fans a good glimpse.
12.25 – Both the families make their way into the Palace, where they will stay taking photos until the famous kiss on the balcony in about an hour.
1.10 – The crowds are flooding down the Mall, escorted by a thick line of policemen; the security measures that have gone into the wedding today are bigger than ever before. The crowd is very mixed; there are lots of people from all over the world, and not only the older Generation, for whom this is perhaps more significant, but thousands of young people as well. Most people are dressed up with union jacks painted all over faces, endless tiaras and a few all-out costumes including a knight fully clad in armour, who has walked all the way for the wedding for charity.
1.30 – The crowds are waiting now for the couple to come on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, we can see William and Harry behind the curtains. Kate steps out saying ‘oh wow!’, it must be a remarkable sight for them. And finally, they share the long awaited kiss, to huge cheers. In fact the crowd is so loud, they do share another kiss!
1.35 – Perfectly timed, a spitfire, Lancaster bomber and a hurricane rip through the sky above Westminster, to the delight of the crowd. People are in the fountains, standing on fences; getting anywhere they can to get the best view.
- Olivia Parker. Images: BBC.co.uk , Getty, Reuters, AFP