As Prince William and Catherine Middleton were tying the knot in Westminster Abbey, an estimated one million British monarchy fans lined the streets of London to celebrate the big day.
Many in the throngs of well-wishers, both Britons and visitors, had woken up extra early to stake out a good spot around Westminster Abbey. Some even camped out the night before in the cold and wet in the hopes of securing the best vantage point. And from all accounts the extra effort was worth it. The crowd was cheery and enthusiastic in their tiaras, bride-and-groom masks, and Union Jack accessories.
“I never thought that I would get up this early,” said John Seller, 72, who came to the Abbey with his wife and neighbors from Wheathampstead, a village in Hertfordshire, England. “I’m usually just getting up now and I read my newspaper and drink my orange juice. I was prevailed upon by these good people—my next-door neighbors—to do these silly things,” he said.
Seller’s wife also attended the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981. Back in 1953, the couple had slept overnight near the Abbey to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Their neighbor, Julie Bell, 51, came with her husband “just to enjoy the atmosphere.”
“It’s lovely, fantastic day. I think England puts on a good show,” said Bell. “All these things are very good, and just standing here looking down the mall is just beautiful.”
Coming from farther away, Mandy Fodor, her twin sister Helen Short, and Short’s son, Alex, arrived on Thursday from Cleveland in northern England.
“I watched Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s wedding many years ago—that was great to see,” said Fodor, a biomedical scientist. “I was on holiday at that time. I remember spending the whole day watching it on TV. So today we decided to come down and get the atmosphere. Even though we are not as close as we’d like to be, we are still getting the atmosphere; everyone’s in a great mood and enjoying it.”
After the carriage of the prince and new princess passed them on its way to Buckingham Palace, Fodor said Middleton “looked absolutely beautiful. The dress is gorgeous, classy.”
Laura, a student living just outside of London, came with her parents.
“It’s really good, really exciting,” Lora said waving her Union Jack. “Everyone’s buzzing. Everyone’s really enjoying it.
Japanese student Eri Konishi, 26, studying dance therapy in London came with her Mexican floor mate.
“I wonder if the same thing would happen in Japan: young people dressing very elegantly, having flags—and wearing them. I don’t know how Japanese young people would react to the royal wedding if it would take place in Japan. It’s very interesting for me to be here.”
Noriaki Kitazato, a 52-year-old father from Tokyo, came with his 4-year-old son Sena to see join the wedding celebration.
"Right after the great earthquake, I felt it may not be safe for my son to stay in Tokyo,” Kitazato said. “Since my wife is studying in London, I brought him to London. Now Tokyo has settled, so I came to fetch him. Using my wife’s holiday, we will all go back to Japan together."
Kitazato said he did not plan to join the royal wedding celebration at first, as the royals in Japan are more removed from common people.
"People feel much more distance to the Royal Family in Japan, “ Kitazato said. “This is good as they keep dignity. I felt much more closer to the royal family here. This is a new discovery for me."
Mario, from north London with wife Amanda, wore badges he had made with Prince William and Middleton’s photos on them.
“I was here when Lady Diana and Prince Charles got married,” Mario said. “This is the second one. It brings people together and in a way we’re celebrating our wedding as well, we’ve been married this year in Sept. 17 years and we’ve been together for 23 years.”
Mario talked about what a boon it the wedding is to the country.
“Those living in England don’t bother to come to this and always moan about it and yet, [events like the wedding] bring a lot of money into the country because people come from all over the place to come here and they bring a lot of money into the country.”
Yoonwon from South Korea brought his family out to join the big day. They said they got a nice view of Prince William, Catherine, and the Queen as they passed in their carriages.
“The wedding … It’s a royal party I guess,” said Yoonwon, who has lived in England for about six years. “It’s like Cinderella or like she went from an ordinary person to a duchess. It’s really nice for ordinary people to look happy. It’s a big day. People will really enjoy it, not only in London ,but also other parts of China or Asia.”
“It’s like a fairy tale. It’s like something happens in the movies. You can watch it directly. It’s a wonderful thing,” she added.