Canadians in London eager to celebrate royal wedding
|Toronto Star 16 May 2018 at 07:15|
LONDON‚ÄĒNicola Day‚Äôs flight to London will land just hours before Prince Harry is set to wed Meghan Markle in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle, and she‚Äôs determined to not let jet lag stand in the way of royal revelry.
Tourists queue to enter Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on Wednesday, as preparations continue ahead of the forthcoming royal wedding.¬†¬†(ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Isn‚Äôt every wedding a royal wedding ‚ÄĒ to the bride?
‚ÄúThey really are historical events, these weddings are a big deal around the whole world ‚Ä¶ I‚Äôm all for celebrating this wedding.‚ÄĚ
The Days are scheduled to arrive just in time to soak in what‚Äôs sure to be an explosion of patriotic fervour for the people‚Äôs prince and his California-born actress fianc√©e.
But the main reason they‚Äôre heading to the United Kingdom is for a separate royal event altogether ‚ÄĒ a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the work of The Prince‚Äôs Charities, which supports the philanthropy of Prince Charles.
Steve Day scored an invitation as a graduate of an entrepreneur program run by the group‚Äôs Canadian chapter. The national program helps Canadian Armed Forces members transition to civilian life by offering education and resources to launch their own business.
Day is one of three Canadian graduates invited to the garden party May 22, which will also mark the 70th birthday year of the Prince of Wales. The prince‚Äôs actual birthday is Nov. 14.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all in the private portion of Buckingham Palace that the public can‚Äôt get access to, so that‚Äôs why it‚Äôs kind of neat,‚ÄĚ he says, musing on the possibility of other royals showing up.
‚ÄúIt is a garden party for Charles‚Äô 70th birthday, so I‚Äôd be very surprised if the entire royal family wasn‚Äôt there.‚ÄĚ
Word is that the newlyweds themselves may attend ‚ÄĒ Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have reportedly chosen the celebration as their first official event as a married couple.
Steve Day says he‚Äôs a fan of the younger prince, who has focused much of his charity work on wounded veterans through his passion project, the Invictus Games.
‚ÄúI feel an affinity with Prince Harry as a retired vet who‚Äôs fought in Afghanistan. I like what he‚Äôs doing to support veterans,‚ÄĚ says Day, who spent more than a year of cumulative duty in Afghanistan on multiple occasions between 2003 and 2011.
Before Tuesday‚Äôs garden party, there are preparations to be made.
‚ÄúLet me tell you, it‚Äôs hard to find a nice hat in Kingston,‚ÄĚ she says.
‚ÄúMy friend said: ‚ÄėYou should go to Ottawa or Toronto and look for a hat.‚Äô So I may just have to look when we actually get to London and I‚Äôll probably spend a fortune. But I may just have to do it because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.‚ÄĚ
Nicola Day says the garden party will include high tea and a formal parade, in which the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will move through the guests.
As for the rest of their weeklong trip, the couple hopes to hit as many tourist hot spots as possible: Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey and the site of the wedding, Windsor Castle, about 80 minutes from London by car.
The town of Windsor has said it expects 100,000 visitors to head there to see the newlyweds travel in procession after the ceremony.
Travel experts expect the number of visitors to the U.K. will increase after the wedding, but some agents reported already seeing a spike in interest because of the nuptials, according to an informal survey by the travel group TLNetwork.ca.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the travel fare aggregator Expedia.ca says it‚Äôs seen a 175 per cent increase year-over-year in flight search data for travel to London over the wedding weekend.
Canadians appear to be among those searching for deals.
Charles Purdue Pulido of Strawberry Tours in London said he‚Äôs seen an increase in Canadian bookings for his agency, which offers tours including one focused on various monarchs throughout history. He says they‚Äôve added a special early morning tour Saturday that will pass through the city‚Äôs royal landmarks and conclude with a screening of the wedding at a pub in central London.
Visiting professor Christabelle Sethna says she‚Äôll likely catch the festivities on television like most of the world, even though she happens to be in the U.K. for academic work until the end of May.
The Canadian credits wedding hype with giving her working trip a welcome celebratory boost, and can‚Äôt help but find the royal couple‚Äôs Hollywood love story enthralling.
In contrast, Sethna finds her British friends and work colleagues rather disinterested in the whole affair.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm the most enthusiastic for many reasons,‚ÄĚ says Sethna, a professor in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa.
And as a former Torontonian, Sethna says she feels ‚Äústrangely connected‚ÄĚ to Markle, who detailed her favourite Hogtown haunts and hobbies on social media while shooting her seven-season run on the TV series Suits.
‚ÄúThe fact that Meghan Markle ‚Ä¶ went to yoga classes and she went to juice bars and she had a big pack of girlfriends, I think many, many women can identify with her Toronto lifestyle,‚ÄĚ says Sethna, who used to live in the same neighbourhood linked to Markle.
‚ÄúOf course, Toronto wants to feel that it‚Äôs at the centre of everything, and being from Toronto I completely understand that feeling ‚Ä¶ It got to be the host for this relationship and I think that‚Äôs wonderful. This is another feather in Toronto‚Äôs cap.‚ÄĚ