WINDSOR, England—The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the flags are up, Meghan Markle is walking herself down most of the aisle (with Prince Charles walking the bride the rest), Prince Philip is coming, and, more shamefully perhaps, the homeless have been evicted to avoid spoiling the mood.
With less than 24 hours to go until the woman who is currently known as Miss Meghan Markle walks out of St George’s Chapel transmogrified into Princess Harry of Wales, the town of Windsor, basking in early summer sunshine, was a seething cauldron of Union Jack-wrapped, ice-cream eating, paper crown-wearing, patriotic fervor on Friday.
With 5,000 accredited journalists already in the town, and an estimated 100,000 tourists estimated to show up tomorrow, one local, barmaid Klaudia Adamiec, 40, said: “I’ve never seen the town this crazy. I’ve lived in Windsor 15 years and I have seen the queen, Camilla, Charles, but I have never seen anything like this. It’s fun for visitors, but if I could, I would just escape from Windsor this weekend.”
Many local pubs and hotels have been taken over by the US broadcast media who are transmitting wall-to-wall coverage of the wedding and its preparations; Warner Bros are headquartered at the Horse and Groom, CNN are in the Watermans Arms on the other side of the Thames in Eton, the Today show has built a studio atop the Castle Hotel, and foreign camera crews are falling over each other’s cables and getting in each other’s shots in the main street.
Windsor is also swarming with big name American anchors.
According to TVnewser, “CBS This Morning,” which is programming six hours of coverage on Saturday, starting at 4 a.m., is being helmed by Gayle King and Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier.
ABC News’ coverage, which will start at 5 a.m. Eastern, will be anchored by Robin Roberts and World News Tonight anchor David Muir
For NBC, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Megyn Kelly, Kathie Lee Gifford, Al Roker, and Sheinelle Jones are all in Windsor.
María Celeste Arrarás is anchoring coverage for Telemundo.
Away from the glamour, one of the stories that has received some attention in the more socialist minded corners of the U.K. press is the removal of homeless people from Windsor’s streets.
One of the many ironies of the wedding is that the bride and groom have asked guests to contribute money to a homeless charity in lieu of giving presents.
The streets are now littered with the increasingly fetid camps of royal fans, many of whom, pushed up in prime spots against temporary railings, are preparing for a second, rather chilly, night under the stars, wrapped in sleeping bags and insulated from the pavement by layers of unfolded cardboard boxes.
Among their number was Chandrani Kasturiratne, 77, a retired nurse from Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, who has attended a multitude of royal events over the years: “I was at the wedding of William and Kate, Diana and Charles, the funeral of Diana and the funeral of the Queen Mother,” she told The Daily Beast. “This is the last royal event I will see—unless the queen goes, then there will be a coronation.”
Sitting with her was Evalyn Abadesco, 63, who was visiting from the U.S. Oddly, the two devotees had met before, in similar circumstances—sitting on the pavement outside the wedding of William and Kate in London six years ago.
“I’ve been a big fan of the royals ever since I was small,” says Evalyn, who grew up in the Philippines, “I used to read books and magazines about them, so when the wedding of William and Kate came I had to come, and we had such a good time on that trip that here I am again.”
In Windsor Great Park, through which the happy couple will process tomorrow in a horse and cart after the wedding, a festive atmosphere prevailed as thousands of fans staked out the best positions along the 3 mile “long walk” ahead of tomorrow’s festivities.
A notable factor is the amazing number of American accents in Windsor: Evalyn, a teacher, said she believes the combined facts of Meghan’s nationality and her celebrity has helped drive interest in the nuptials Stateside.
“Harry could have picked anyone, and he picked this beautiful, bi-racial, divorced woman,” she said, “It must be love.”
Meghan and Harry fever is everywhere—the main train station, Windsor and Eton Central, has temporarily changed its name to Meghan and Harry Central, and the supermarket Marks and Spencer, often known as Marks and Sparks, has temporarily rebranded itself Markle and Sparkle.
One cafe was even serving cappuccino dusted with images of the happy couple’s faces.
Not everyone was as carried away with the magic of the occasion however.
One flag seller, Felice Butler, who had travelled up from Surrey with 700 flags which she had bought for a pound each and hoped to sell for double that, said business was “shit.”
“There’s too many of us and not enough of them,” she said, gesturing first towards other vendors and then to the milling crowds, “This my first and definitely my last time doing this.”