On Friday 29th April, 2011, London’s streets filled with a million people from all over the World, celebrating the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. This was a good day for the British Monarchy and for the British people. London was a sea of patriotism. Not only were there red, white and blue Union Jack Flags everywhere, but also flags of many other nations, both members of the Commonwealth and other parts of the globe. This was a wedding for everyone. People revelled in the occasion. Many had come equipped with face masks of William and Kate and other members of the Royal Family. Britain demonstrated that we are unique in being able to stage an occasion such as this, full of pomp and ceremony that the World wants to see. Just hours before his wedding, Her Majesty The Queen granted her grandson the title of Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, which also made Catherine a Duchess and therefore, a member of the Royal Family.
This was probably the most watched event in British history, perhaps in World history, with an estimated TV audience of 25 million in the United Kingdom and over 2 billion worldwide. This exceeded the broadcast, fourteen years earlier, of the funeral of Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, the mother of William and Harry. This also took place at Westminster Abbey. In London, there were 8,500 foreign journalists and broadcasters, 400 cameras covering the route of the procession and 33 special temporary TV studios were built close to Buckingham Palace and opposite Westminster Abbey. The demand for electricity in the United Kingdom reflected the size of the viewing audience. When the newlyweds reached Buckingham Palace, demand increased by 2,400 megawatts (the equivalent of nearly one million kettles being switched on). When they appeared on the Balcony of Buckingham Palace, power consumption dropped by 3,000 megawatts, suggesting that viewers had returned to their screens.
The crowds that enjoyed the wedding, will no doubt return to London in June next year, when celebrations mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee from 2nd – 5th June 2012. The Queen will celebrate 60 years of her reign, which will include a massive flotilla of boats on the River Thames. There will be an additional public holiday on 5th June. Only one previous monarch has celebrated a Diamond Jubilee and that was Queen Victoria.
This has been called, “the People’s Wedding” and “wedding for all”. The Abbey was full with foreign royalty, heads of state, politicians, dignitaries, diplomats and celebrities, all hoping that if they did yawn, it would not be captured on TV. Outside, there was no such trepidation. The crowds cheered when they heard the broadcast of, “I will” and roared with approval when William and Kate first appeared as man and wife. The crowds were relaxed. They had fun. Men and women wore patriotic hats and wigs, some of which were specially decorated. A decorated bicycle and inflatable kangaroo from Australia did not seem out of place.
The Windsors and the Middletons, on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, were greeted by thousands of flag waving well wishers. The traditional first kiss between William and Kate was followed by a second crowd-thrilling embrace and one more kiss. This was a long day, especially for those visitors who had camped out overnight, but London and the organisers maintained the excitement. The flypast of old and new aircraft down The Mall and over Buckingham Palace was memorable. A Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster, together with their modern Tornado and Typhoon replacements, caused thousands of cameras to be pointed skywards. Later, the surprise appearance of a Royal Navy Air Sea Rescue helicopter, crewed by William’s colleagues from Anglesey, caused more excitement as it heralded the departure of William and Kate from Buckingham Palace in an open topped Aston Martin.
With the official events over, 5,000 officers of the Metropolitan Police breathed a sigh of relief that the day had passed smoothly. The litter collectors now needed to move in to remove the tons of bottles, packaging and overnight bedding discarded by the revellers.
This was not just a “wedding for all” with majesty and magic. It was an occasion securing the future of the British Monarchy. As Kate said to a well wisher, “We had a great day”.