THE WEDDING DAY: MY REPORT
Photos & copyright: Anuschka B. & Netty Leistra (not to be posted elsewhere without our permission)
What to do when you haven't received accreditation as a royalty journalist, and you want to see something of a royal wedding after all? After only a few hours sleep, Anuschka, Christine and I headed for Westminster Abbey. It turned out that if we had come earlier, we wouldn't even have been able to take the subway from Paddington to Westminster. Even now we had to change trains. But finally we reached Westminster. Of course all the places on the side of the entrance of Westminster Abbey bride and groom were going to use were already taken. But we had seen that there weren't that many people yet at Parliamentary Square in the back of the Abbey opposite of St Margaret's Church. It even turned out after the first rows of people the grounds were higher. And at 6am we were still able to get first row places on that higher part. We could even sit when we were tired.
Time always goes slowly, but we were enjoying ourselves. Around us were people from all over the world: Australia and even India. We found out that the programme booklet were already on sale, so at 8am Christine and I headed for the nearby park to get ourselves a few. Nice to be able to stretch our legs, and at the same time we got what we really wanted to have.
It turned out our places weren't bad at all. We saw journalists entering St Margaret's Church, and guests walked around. One of my favourite BBC-moderators, Fiona Bruce, was standing at St Margaret's Church doing interviews. The most interesting guest we got to see, was Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. But finally there were cars and busses with guests passing. As they were nearing the Abbey, they didn't drive very fast anymore. Unfortunately dark windows, but with a bit of luck we spotted some foreign and British royals in them. We saw the uncles and aunts of the groom passing, as well as Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the Duke of Edinburgh, and of course the parents and stepmother of the bridal couple. And then finally came the car with Prince William and Prince Harry in it. And then we didn't have to wait long for the car with the bride and her father.
We tried to follow the service through the speakers, but unfortunately the crowd wasn't very quiet. Despite of having the programme, we hardly managed to hear how far the service was. But at least we heard the bride and groom both saying "yes", after which everybody started cheering. Finally the service came to an end. We saw the carriage standing near the entrance of the Abbey and lots of flashlights of photographers. It took a while before the carriage took off, and we could have our own glimpse of the newly wed couple in their carriage. However we can say, we have seen them.
As soon as the couple and the other royals had passed everybody tried to reach the Mall as soon as possible. My feet were tired, so I didn't hurry that much. On the side of St James's Park I saw a last bus with guests passing in the direction of Buckingham Palace. It took ages to get out of the crowdy park. Everywhere were people. When I finally reached the Mall I already soon saw people hurrying towards Buckingham Palace. But the police didn't allow people from the park to join the people on the Mall, so I didn't try. However it was fun to see everybody running.
Finally I ended up at the Mall itself. I decided I wouldn't be able to see something of the kiss at Buckingham Palace anyway. Therefore I slowly walked in the opposite direction. Surprisingly the next group of people were heading towards the Palace after all, and I did let them pass. I took a seat in the middle of the Mall and didn't have to wait long. I didn't hear the people screaming near Buckingham Palace, nor did I see the kiss on the balcony, but at least I managed to see the small but very nice fly-past.
As lots of streets were still closed it was almost impossible to reach the subway. When I finally found one, I went back to the hotel. It had been a wonderful day. In the hotel I watched some television and had a look on the Internet. So I could see there what I had missed while being out in the streets. There is however one thing the television never can completely catch: and that is the sphere when you are in the streets and joining the public.