My Friday night departure from Ottawa, Ontario on May 18th was the start of my 10 day trip to Europe with a one day layover in London and then onward to my Poland destinations. Coincidently, the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was to be held on the Saturday, the day of my arrival, at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. With a sense of adventure and a small amount of planning, I decided to check out the wedding and take some photos along the way.
London Heathrow Airport to Windsor, UK
I touched down at 6:30 am at London Heathrow Airport on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. As I was flying with just my carry-on luggage and camera bag, I conveniently made a quick wardrobe change, applied my SPF 15, donned my ball cap, and stored my luggage at the Terminal 2 left baggage facility. The free Heathrow WiFi was perfect, I was able to determine that trains were leaving regularly from Heathrow to Slough station and then onward to Windsor and Eton Central station. Catching the train to Slough was easy, about a 15 minute walk from Terminal 2 through well connected, modern, and marked inside walkways to the Heathrow station.
The train ride to Slough was pleasant, about 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport. I paid an agent onboard with my VISA for the return trip, so no further worries arranging for tickets with the mayhem later on.
I arrived at Slough about 9:30 am, and that’s when the real fun began. I had to transfer at Slough to catch the last leg of my train ride to Windsor and Eton Central station. The transfer was very orderly, I was directed off my train and sent through a series of exit passageways to the queueing lines outside and close to the Slough train station. I was among hundreds gathered, people were happy, it was a very festive atmosphere. After all, we were all going to the Royal Wedding today, just that I had no clue how to qualify yet what “going to” would entail. I figured, however, that I would not be inside St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding, I mean, I had not brought my formal attire 😉 . I was resigned to the prospect of being outside the castle somewhere, and hopefully along a road to see the royal couple passing by in their horse-drawn carriage.
The line moved quickly and oh how nice it was to be treated to buckets of Royal Wedding chocolates. If you look closer, the candyman was rail security and had a video badge hanging around his neck. Maybe he was part of the surveillance operation with facial recognition going on.
I eventually made it back to the Slough station and onto the platform. Notice the signage below
Finally, the train from Slough to the Windsor and Eton Central station had arrived. For today it was renamed the train to “Harry and Meghan Central”.
It was a lovely 6 minute train ride passing through the lush green countryside to Windsor.
The Walk from Harry & Meghan Central to the Windsor Castle Grounds
The train station is located in the tourist town of Windsor which would normally take about 10 minutes to walk to Windsor Castle. It would take me over an hour to get to the castle grounds. It was dead simple, just follow the crowds and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Yayyy, I made it through!! 🙂
Getting into Position and the Long Wait for the Royal Couple
Once on the grounds the police presence was very noticeable. I had a brief walk around and quickly realized that I would not be able to get close enough to the castle to take photos, so I settled for a shaded position along a Windsor street where at 1pm, following the service, the royal couple would pass by in a horse-drawn carriage, providing an opportunity for members of the public to see them and join in with the celebrations. I did venture over to The Long Walk (it was parallel to the street I was on) but there was no shade, the crowds were mounting (hence an obstruction for my camera) and the view was further away due to the placement of the security fencing. Just when I thought all was good along the Windsor street, I became hungry, thirsty, and had to use the toilet. So I scrambled off to attend to those matters, albeit much to my chagrin with all the line-ups, but I did manage to return to my same spot a half hour later. I was the second person deep from the security fence and fortunately the three women ahead of me were short. It was 11 am and I would stay put until the horse-drawn carriage would pass by in front of me.
At about 11:50 am there was a huge frenzy of cheering so I then looked over to the huge flat screen televisions and could see that the Queen was arriving via The Long Walk by limousine. I turned my head over to the right and saw in-person the Queen’s limousine pass by on The Long Mile which was about 50 meters from my location. It was such a thrill! Frequently throughout the wedding ceremony, as seen from the large television displays, lots of spontaneous cheers would arise.
Here’s a video from my vantage point when God Save the Queen was playing..
The Royal Couple Arrive
Finally, after over a two hour wait, the royal couple passed by in splendid fashion and I was able shoot off a few photos.
I was so pleased to have been able to capture the royal couple as they passed in front of me, it really made my day 🙂
I had some serious jetlag, so after some lengthy backtracking I was out like a light when my head hit the pillow at my hotel… then up at 5 am the next day for my flight to Warsaw, Poland.