herald

Thursday 18 October 2018

Harry feels 'wonderful' as he meets crowds before wedding to Meghan

Meghan Markle arrives with her mother, Doria Ragland, to have tea with the queen
Meghan Markle arrives with her mother, Doria Ragland, to have tea with the queen

Royal wedding watchers could barely contain their excitement when after days camped on the streets, they saw Britain's Prince Harry and his brother William emerge from the Windsor Castle grounds.

The crowd surged forward as the brothers stopped to shake their hands.

Harry told those he met that he was feeling "wonderful" ahead of his wedding today to Meghan Markle.

The impromptu walkabout was similar to the one Prince William conducted the evening before his wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011.

After a few minutes, the princes darted back inside the castle gates.

"He looked calm and confident," one woman said, adding it was "impressive, given the circumstances".

The final 48 hours before the wedding had been filled with drama, after news broke that Meghan's father, Thomas, would not be attending.

Despite the upset, the bride-to-be also said she was feeling "wonderful" as she arrived with her mother, Doria Ragland, at the luxury Cliveden House Hotel after meeting Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip for afternoon tea.

Prince Harry meets well-wishers outside Windsor Castle
Prince Harry meets well-wishers outside Windsor Castle

Smiled

With an arm briefly around her mother, she smiled broadly and looked at ease as they were greeted by the hotel general manager.

Harry and Meghan spent their last night as an unmarried couple in separate hotels.

Yesterday morning, Kensington Palace announced Prince Charles would be walking Meghan down the aisle.

The palace said the former actress had asked her future father-in-law to accompany her as she makes her way to the altar.

For the royal watchers this came as welcome news.

"I think it's good for the queen," Molly Kleven (73), from Minnesota, said.

"She likes tradition and continuity, and it lets Meghan know she's part of the family."

Yesterday, celebrity guests started arriving in town and the £30m (€34m) ring of security tightened. Manholes were checked, footpaths and roads cordoned off and armed police patrolled around asking the crowd to refrain from throwing confetti when the newlyweds emerge from the chapel.

"It's a hazard for the carriage", one said, "and a bit of a pain to clean up".

Three town criers were on standby - unofficial royal town crier Tony Appleton, the Gloucester town crier Alan Myatt and the Windsor town crier Chris Brown.

Drinking

The latter said when it comes to royal weddings, three town criers are definitely not a crowd.

"There's enough room for all three," he said.

"We're all drinking lots of water and shouting."

The multiple criers, media wranglers and well-wishers were a little too much for new bride Vicky Hallam, whose Windsor wedding was gatecrashed by the world's media and royalty.

Vicky and husband Aron had booked their wedding nine months ago and had been expecting a quiet ceremony with about 30 guests. Harry and Meghan have changed all that.

"I was first. This was booked in August. I was well in there before Meghan," Vicky said.

Getting married the day before royalty does have its perks though, Vicky conceded.

"I got a police escort and was interviewed on Sky News. Everyone cheered, it was pretty unreal really," she added.

The pub where Aron and Vicky held their reception had even changed its name for the weekend, from The Three Tuns to The Prince Harry.

Sisters Shauna and Brielle McCormick had flown in from their home in New Jersey with their mother, Ann.

"We couldn't miss it. Everyone needs a fairy tale," Ann said.

"It's nice to be here for a good news story."

Pomp

They all agreed it was more enjoyable revelling in the ridiculousness of the royals than reading about, say their own president or North Korea.

"We have nothing like this. It's the pomp and ceremony that makes it so enjoyable. It's just fun," Shauna said.

Today, more than 150,000 are expected to flock to Windsor for the ceremony.

It is big business for British marketeers and those visiting the town.

It is estimated that royalist consumers will spend between £40m and £70m (€46m and €80m) on royal wedding-related merchandise, including commemorative mugs, plates, coins and posters.

KFC in Windsor has even released a limited edition Royal Bargain Bucket.

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