01 May, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Can this shot BE more British?
I'm departing a bit from my normal film analysis/industry observations, because I think it's also important to occasionally acknowledge the other aspect of my life which is of an American studying abroad in the UK.  It was this aspect that was in full, fabulous light this past weekend as I was in London to join with the world in celebrating the marriage of Catherine Elizabeth and William Arthur Philip Louis :) 

It. Was. Brilliant.

I got down there on Thursday evening and met up with my pal Lindsey, a royal-aficionado (really, it was like having my own personal pop up video of royal history and even gossip; fun!).  I was staying at her place right next to Victoria station. Thursday was chill; a glass of wine, pad thai, and discussion about the following day's plans. We knew we had to get there early, but didn't feel it was necessary to join the masses camping out on the parade route. We're keen, but not so keen that we needed to pitch a tent for the night :) 

Tent City by Westminster
We did, however, take a stroll down to Westminster to see the action, the preparations and decorations, and take a look at where it would all go down the next day. This was my first hint at the fun to come.  Everyone was so happy. Enthusiastic, polite, buzzing, but more than anything else, HAPPY. It was great! There was a media village put together of vans, reporters, camera and sound people, tons of tents, and wandering enthusiasts breaking into cheers, high fives, and lovely conversations. People were nothing but pleasant, and there was a real sense of community in those little makeshift towns. It was fabulous.

Ahh...perfect picnic
Then we prepped our picnic for the following day (tuna sandwiches, Victoria sponge cake, scones, strawberries and cream, bubbly... can you GET more British?), and then went to bed, as our wake up call was 6am! 

We figured we'd head to Green Park tube station and see where the crowds were wandering too. We wanted to be by a big screen so we could see everything, and were more interested in that than being on the parade route where we'd have to camp out all day for only a possible glimpse as they rode/drove by.

Our spot (and after access was closed, obvi)
So coming out of the tube station, straight in front of us, was a flippin' HUGE screen, and a barely-filled field. So that was our home for the next seven hours! Blanket laid, picnic prepped... we were ready. The coverage started shortly after that, and more, and more people began filling up the previously empty park. I went for a wander to Buckingham Palace (about 100 yards away), saw the parade route, the crowds already five deep at 8am, Union Jack flags everywhere, and more children in tiaras and princess gowns, women in wedding dresses, men in full suits of armor... it was fab! 

Shiny armor
Best. Dress. Ever.
I really love any situation where this many people come together and are enthusiastic about a positive thing. The crowds at Twilight events, fans at Harry Potter releases, and a country on a wedding day! We became pals with those around us, enjoyed watching the little girl in front of us wearing her flag dress, and cheering with the crowds as excitement built.

The viewing party
When William left Clarence House everyone cheered, when the first shots of Westminster appeared there were oohs and ahhhs, and the crowning moment (pardon the pun) was when Kate stepped out of the car. I'm not gonna lie, and this will sound cheesy, but honestly she stepped out, and then the sun came out. The whole park looked up at the sky and then broke out into cheers. It was amazing! People are making cheesy claims about 'it being Diana' which may be true for those that wish to believe it, but regardless... it was a very WOW moment. Her dress was stunning... I still think she was a little too skinny (apparently she was surviving on Winegums during the week before the wedding; William said she was too nervous!), but hot damn she wore that dress well. Her arms looked gorgeous in the lace, hair, makeup, and a blingin' tiara didn't hurt the look either :) Beautiful!

Props Pippa, props...
I think Pippa deserves an award for having the most challenging dress (it's not easy to move in a mermaid tail!), wearing heels, and holding the hands of three year-old flower girls down an aisle, bending down to get the train... she definitely had the trickiest jobs, I think!

I love a little pomp and ceremony, and the fanfare really set that off. We bought a bunch of programs (for ourselves and family souvenirs), so we could sing along with the hymns, read along with the prayers, it really gave a feeling that we were at the service too; talk about participatory culture! It felt like the sanctuary extended to every park/television screen that was watching, particularly when you're watching it with thousands of reacting people; cheering, singing, dabbing away tears, and popping bubbly.

The bubbly bit was a favorite moment. It was during the vows, when they said 'I know pronounce you man and wife,' and throughout the entire park you just heard cheers and 'Pop! Pop! Pop!' It was fabulous. So we poured our bubbly in our Union Jack cups, sang the national anthem, and then treated ourselves to lunch and a Victoria sponge cake whilst we waited for the kiss.

British Queuing at its finest
Side story: I love the British and their queuing ability. Anywhere else that would have been a disorganized mess; but no, it was lovely. It was waiting in this queue that I also realize how bloomin' close we were to the action. I looked to my left, and there was the Queen Victoria memorial, which is the fountain right in front of Buckingham Palace where tons of people were now crowing around to watch the kiss. Another side note, I also loved how calmly everyone walked down the Mall to the palace; it was orderly, sedate, and there were no mobs, shoving, or stampedes. Yay!

Of course the kiss was adorable, and it was pleasant to be treated to two! My fave moments of that whole part though were when Kate first stepped onto the balcony and said, "Oh wow!" It was a very human moment. And also when William looked at her and said, "Shall we do it again" followed by the second kiss. Uber cute, and such fun to have the crowd's reaction. 

Lastly, I got super teary when the planes flew overhead.  These old planes which helped save the UK during World War 2, alongside the new-era protective planes, closely followed by the yellow Sea King helicopter that William flies in (with my friend Ally as his captain who was invited to the wedding itself, actually; so it was fun having a friend on the inside to spot on TV and hear stories about the inside after the fact)... anyway... I got teary at the planes. Also because we were watching them in the screen, and then all of a sudden there they were, over our heads! We were watching exactly what they were watching... So close! Oh it was so exciting.

I just can't get over how happy, friendly, and united everyone was. We hear nothing but gossip and disaster and blerg-ness on the news, so it was fabulous to have a bit of pageantry, camaraderie, politeness, and a shared enjoyment of a wedding; even for just a moment to come together over something centered around love, history and pageantry, but also looking forward into progression, hope/future of the monarchy and faith in humanity type stuff.... heady, I know, but SUCH fun.
"It should have been me" Cute.

The rest of the day was celebrating, of course. Bubbly and strawberries on the roof deck, a pint in the local, and watching updates all day long about the wedding, and the couple's current movements. I'm so glad I went; definitely a wonderful life experience, I'll remember it forever, and it renewed my faith in humanity a smidge. That whole huge day with no mishaps except smiles on our faces :)

Celebratory pub
Swag I purchased: programs, key chains, a mug, four biscuit tins, a replica of her ring (yup; cheesy I know, but it makes me smile :)

I realize they're money-makers blah de blah, but you know what? They're also keepsakes and story-starters. Well worth the few quid I spent!

Sigh... now back to reality, production progressions, international interviews, life decisions, house hunting, and oh yeah.... thesis-writing.