On April 29th a real life fairy tale came true. A normal, every day girl became royalty. It is something that most little girls dream of. Blame it on the Disney movies, if you will, but lets face it, I think its safe to say that no girl wouldn't want to be whisked off to live a life of actual royalty.... to become a real life princess.
I toyed with the idea of going to London for the wedding for weeks. I knew I wasn't going to go and camp out for days before, so I knew I likely wouldn't get to see much of anything. I knew it was going to be a long, crowded, exhausting day. But, I also knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would kick myself in the ass if I didn't go. So, when my friend Megan asked if I wanted to go, it didn't take much for me to jump all over that!
Bright and early in the morning (6 am to be exact), we boarded a tour bus on the base and headed down to London. I was fully expecting to run into hoards of traffic and be stuck on the bus until 9 or 10. However, we ran into literally NO traffic. We drove into the heart of the city and I swear there was NO ONE out! It was actually kind of creepy. By the time we were in the city, it was about 7:30 or so, so its not like it was super early.... it was scary movie creepy. The bus driver dropped us off at the London eye and we started our day.
Big Ben and Parliament bright and early Friday Morning
Yep, people definitely camped out!
Some of our friends were already there and texted Megan and told her they were right at front around Westminster Abbey. We tried to find them, but never did, so we decided to head on down to Buckingham Palace. We knew the royal family was going to come out on the balcony, so we figured our odds of seeing them were a little higher there. We walked through St. James Park and made our way to Buckingham. We started out on the side, near on the gates (if you're staring head on at the Palace, we were to the left and right behind one of the gate things) and somehow managed to make our way about as close as we could get (the big area in front of the palace wasn't opened up to the crowds yet and the section right past the gates on the side held the crazy people who'd been camping out for a couple of nights.
Buckingham Palace from St. James Park
There were tons of balloons!
By the time we got to the palace, it was about 8:45 or so, so we had quite a while to wait. We got to see the cars leave the palace and head towards Westminster Abbey and could hear the crowds screaming as they drove past them on the Parade route. The royal band came through quite a few times, so we had some entertainment while we waited.
There were massive speakers spread throughout the city and they piped the entire ceremony live to the crowds. It was AWESOME! Everyone cheered when they said "I Do" and when they were pronounced Husband and Wife.
I was a little nervous, I'll admit. About a week before the Daily Mail had written an article about protestors threatening to come to London on the day of the wedding and burn effigies of William and Kate, the Union Jack flag, and replicas of the crown. And lets face it, in a crowd that big, anything can happen, so my nerves were on a little bit of an alert. Luckily, the protestors stayed home and everything was okay (which probably had something to do with the 30 million pounds the British Government spent on security). The crowd was massive, but there was no malicious behavior... no negativity. The energy in the whole of London was amazing. It was incredibly positive and joyous and nothing but celebratory! It feels awesome to have been a part of it.
The snipers on the roof of the palace!
After the ceremony, the Royal family drove back through the parade route and down to Buckingham palace. The crowd swelled when the carriages got to the palace and I ended up not being able to see them (curse me being so short!). Once everyone was accounted for and in the palace, the police opened up the barriers and let the crowds surge forward and into the square directly in front of the palace. Megan and I stayed where we were. We both had good views of the balcony and didn't want to miss it.
After a little while, the doors opened and the royal family came out onto the balcony. The crowd went wild!!! They waved and smiled and radiated happiness. They ended up kissing twice which only spurred on the excitement.
There they are!
And I finally got to see the queen!!!! (She's in yellow)
After the first kiss, the Royal Air Force did a couple of fly bys!
They were right over our heads!
The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge (and future King and Queen)!!!
Afterward we let the crowd thin out a little bit and then headed to a pub to meet up with our friends for lunch. By the time we got there it was about 2 in the afternoon, so we were exhausted, starving, and most definitely more than ready for lunch.
Walking back through St. James Park...the flowers were gorgeous!
After lunch we walked back to Westminster Abbey; we'd heard they were letting people in so you could walk on the red carpet and all that... but that turned out to be just rumor. We got to see them breaking everything down, and this is the best picture of the red carpet I could get.
While they were breaking everything down.
There were Union Jack flags everywhere.
We got back on the bus a little while later and ended up back on base around 6:00 or so. Megan had emailed her husband and told him to hunt down Christopher and plan dinner so that we could watch the wedding on TV.
It was incredibly surreal to sit there, uploading pictures to the computer of the day, and watch the wedding.... to know that I was JUST there! It was awesome!