Kiwi journalist in London Jono Hutchison took the train to Windsor to join the Royal Wedding crowds. This was his day.
Much like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, my Saturday started early, full of nerves and in famous surroundings.
My alarm went off at 4:40am; I rose regally from my bed and put the micro-kettle on to prepare two sachets of Nescafé’s finest original blend instant coffee. I swept aside the curtains to reveal a vista fit for a prince sixth in line for the throne: the car park of the Travelodge in Slough.
Slough, the town made infamous as the setting for the first season of The Office, is conveniently close to Windsor, which was playing host to the royal wedding. It was also a cheaper option for accommodation for anyone who is not an Earl or a Baroness.
I took a luxuriously tepid shower, packed my suit and made my way downstairs, past the Travelodge bar, which was hosting two days of 24-hour happy-hours (I suppose that is just 48-hours, but that was how it was advertised). At the train station police officers were setting up security fences in anticipation of the crowds. I bought a ticket to Windsor, and walked through the turnstiles – only to realise that you didn’t have to buy a ticket and you could just get on the train for free. I plan to expense my £2.80 to The Spinoff.
Upon reaching the platform, the royal wedding spirit really hit me.
As I waited for the 6:24 from Slough to Harry and Meghan Central, I overheard a police officer say, “I hope this No Doz kicks in soon”. My heart went out to the poor chap, who obviously had not stayed in the Travelodge Slough, where you get two free sachets of Nescafé original blend to start the day. At least I hope they’re free; if I get a bill I’m invoicing The Spinoff.
Arriving in Harry and Meghan Central, the level of security quickly became apparent. Armed police, unarmed police, unarmed not-police, fences… they were all out in force. I made my way around several closed streets until I found the way to the main road, where the procession would head down later in the day. Of course the access was shut, and security guards were turning everyone away. “You can’t come through,” they said, insisting that only accredited people were allowed past. So I showed them my swipe card that I use for getting into my work, and they were very impressed. I was ushered through post haste.
Once I was safely on the bit of the footpath for important people such as myself, I relaxed and began to hobnob with other important invited guests. Then suddenly I turned around, and there they were, the Royal couple!
I couldn’t believe I was so close to Harry and Meghan. What a moment this was. Meghan’s dress looked fantastic, and Harry had clearly opted to shave before the big day. I instantly recognised he was dressed in his military uniform, signifying that he is in the military. The symbolism was powerful.
I settled in for the wedding ceremony. It was moving and incredible to have a front row seat, only just outside the castle walls. I was immensely grateful to the Royal family for sort of inviting me to stand outside on the footpath and listen to the BBC broadcast of the ceremony being played over loudspeakers. What a day for Britain, and especially for me.
Shortly after the ceremony finished, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex drove past the adoring crowds, and close friends and family such as myself. We waved to them as they drove away, content in the knowledge that we had been present, and sort of invited, at the wedding of the decade.