Here's how Windsor is preparing for the Royal Wedding
PUBLISHED: 11:52 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:31 21 May 2018
Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
Royal Wedding fever is building up as Windsor prepares to celebrate the marriage of HRH Prince Harry to Meghan Markle
Doesn’t time fly? Especially when planning a wedding! Perhaps it’s because since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement back in November – and that the wedding would be in Windsor – not a day has gone by without speculation about who’s attending, the bride’s dress, the lemon and elderflower cake and floral decorations.
The clock’s ticking louder as we enter the last month before the Big Day, St George’s Chapel is being prepared, security plans checked and tested, with all this worldwide scrutiny as millions watch around the planet to come just a week after the private grounds of Windsor Castle host the 75th Royal Windsor Horse Show.
No wonder a ‘ring of steel’ is envisaged, with all Thames Valley Police leave cancelled among a host of security measures.
The town is set to be crowded with an estimated 100,000 people seeking a good viewing spot the night before the ceremony gets underway at 12 noon on 19 May, with The Dean of Windsor, the Right Rev David Conner, conducting the service, during which the Archbishop of Canterbury will officiate as the marriage vows are made.
After watching guests arrive during the morning, the crowds will be hoping for a decent glimpse of the newlyweds after the ceremony from 1pm when a two-mile tour of the town by carriage is planned, taking in the High Street area from Castle Hill before returning to the Castle via The Long Walk and a reception in St George’s Hall.
But before all that among the very first people to offer their congratulations will be the lucky 2,000 plus charity workers, local school pupils and community champions invited inside the Castle walls to enjoy a more intimate glimpse of proceedings.
Within St George’s Chapel itself, the staircase will be lined with troopers from The Household Cavalry and their will be a military presence throughout the precincts, including servicemen and woman who served with Prince Harry in Afghanistan.
Of course we’ll be doing it all again in the autumn when Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank marry in St George’s Chapel on Friday, 12 October… but perhaps that one, even by royal standards, will be a little more low-key!
Choosing your wedding souvenir
If you’re in Windsor in the weeks leading up to the wedding, or there for the big day, you’ll find plenty to take home in the stores and gift shops. While some choices are of the ‘When Harry met Meghan’ style or feature jokey caricatures, for the purists the couple have also approved The Royal Collection Trust range of china in a design featuring white and cornflower blue, their initials and Prince Harry’s coronet, and finished with a gold border. You can see it at royalcollectionshop.co.uk, where a very attractive tankard is priced at £39.
We’re also impressed by the fine bone china Sophie Allport commemorative mug featuring Windsor Castle, £13, and this year 10% of the retail sales will be donated to Heads Together, a mental health initiative spearheaded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. See sophieallport.com.
Emma Bridgewater has designed two new half pint mugs to celebrate the wedding, on sale from 19 April for £19.95, see emmabridgewater.co.uk. If you fancy carrying Windsor Castle around with you, then a Victoria Eggs handmade tote bag might appeal. It’s £20 and the same design is available on a tea towel (£12) and apron (£22), find them at amazon.co.uk/handmade.
On the royal menu today…
You can expect to find plenty of tasty dishes and no doubt some lemon and elderflower cakes in Windsor’s restaurants and coffee shops, but one establishment has gone all out with a tailored menu including dishes and ingredients inspired by the couple.
At Windsor Grill in St Leonard’s Road, the Royal Wedding weekend will see specials such as cottage pie and fish cakes, which are rumoured to be Prince Harry’s favourite dishes; as well as seared tuna nicoise, and linguine with slow-cooked courgettes, lemon and goats cheese, which are twists on Ms Markle’s favourite meals.
The restaurant has even sourced Grey Owl Goat’s cheese from Fromagerie Le Detour in Quebec, Canada, which is believed to be Ms Markle’s favourite cheese. And, not surprisingly, the restaurant is also laying on a special elderflower and lemon dessert.
Chef Patron David Wilby has also worked with his wine supplier to locate two rare wines from a vineyard in Australia. The wines, named Elizabeth and Philip, pay homepage to Prince Harry’s grandparents and were first produced when Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip visited the wine estate during their honeymoon.
David explains: “As a proud independent Windsor restaurant, we are very excited about the wedding. It’s really important to mark these occasions which is why, alongside our usual favourites, we thought we’d have a bit of fun with our menus. Our regular customers know how much effort we go to in order to provide good food using the best ingredients. That’s why we’ve scoured the globe to make sure that we have some special items on the menu for such a special occasion.
“Whilst we are sure the catering will be spectacular at the castle, Prince Harry and Ms Markle should be comforted to know that we have some of their favourites ready should they wish to pop out for a bit!”
The restaurant, which is usually only open for dinner on Monday to Saturday, is extending its opening hours to fit around the wedding weekend. It will be open from Saturday at 2pm to 10pm and Sunday afternoon 11.30am to 4pm (last orders), offering lunch and dinner on the Saturday and brunch and lunch on the Sunday.
A cat can look at a queen
When you’re Dexter, Windsor’s famous cat with his own Facebook and Twitter following, a trip to Windsor Castle – along with a shopping expedition combined with the odd ‘nap’ in the town’s stores – is all in a normal day’s activities.
Celebrity Dexter may not have an official invitation to the wedding, but our photographer Maureen McLean recently spotted him on patrol beside the castle walls. There may be some famous faces in Windsor on 19 May, but it could well be Dexter who features in a new version of Monopoly’s being designed with the royal town as its theme and due to go on sale this year.
Members of the public have been able to vote for the places and features which should appear in the board game and, as expected, Dexter has been piling up the votes. We’d love to pick up a community chest card and discover Dexter!
19 May: a date in history
While this will be a royal date to remember, it’s not always been one of joy for Britain’s rulers. Perhaps the most notable 19 May was in 1536 when Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII was beheaded following accusations of adultery, treason and incest!
Other notable 19 Mays include:
• 1499 - Catherine of Aragon was married by proxy to Arthur, Prince of Wales. She was 13, and the prince just 12, but although she was titled Princess of Wales, he died in 1501 and she was later married to his younger brother, Henry VIII. Of their six children, only a daughter who became Mary I survived.
• 1568 - Queen Elizabeth I, who managed to reach the throne despite being Anne Boleyn’s daughter, ordered the arrest of Mary, Queen of Scots, on this day. Mary was held for 19 years before being beheaded.
• 1649 - More tribulations for the Royals on this date as an Act of Parliament declared England and Wales (and later Scotland and Ireland) a Commonwealth following the Second Civil War and execution of Charles I. The country would be a republic for the next 11 years.
• 1879 - The birth date of Nancy Astor, American socialite and mistress of Cliveden as Viscountess Astor, who was to become the first woman to take up her seat as an MP in Parliament.
• Things to do in Berkshire this May - We round up some of the best events and things to do across Berkshire this month