Thou­sands turn out – and it wasn’t even the real thing!

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Jim Nor­ton

WITH thou­sands lin­ing the streets out­side Wind­sor Cas­tle yes­ter­day, you might have thought the royal wed­ding had be­gun 48 hours early.

But in fact the march­ing band, the mounted sol­diers and the horse­drawn car­riage parad­ing along the historic streets was part of a dress re­hearsal for the big event to­mor­row.

It was the fi­nal prac­tice for more than 250 mem­bers of the mil­i­tary tak­ing part in what is set to be the big­gest pro­ces­sion ever seen in Wind­sor.

The only peo­ple miss­ing at the dry run were the royal cou­ple them­selves – they arrived later in the day in a blacked-out Range Rover.

Ex­cite­ment for to­mor­row’s wed­ding ap­peared to be reach­ing fever pitch yes­ter­day as tourists be­gan claim­ing the best spots over an hour be­fore the re­hearsal be­gan.

By the time it started to a loud brass fan­fare at around 11am, they stood four rows deep be­hind the bar­ri­ers un­der the clear blue sky.

Dressed in full mil­i­tary uni­form, Prince Harry’s for­mer reg­i­ment the House­hold Cav­alry were joined by the Band of the Ir­ish Guards to give a teaser of the mu­sic they will play to­mor­row when the crowds get the first glimpses of the new­ly­weds.

The re­hearsal in­cluded mem­bers of the Royal Gurkha Ri­fles, Royal Marines, RAF Hon­ing­ton and the Royal Navy Small Ships and Div­ing units.

Many of those watch­ing waved flags and dressed in red, white and blue as they watched the prac­tice pro­ces­sion.

School chil­dren wrapped them­selves in Union Jack flags and tourists wore Union Jack suits and crowns.

One royal fan was spot­ted wear­ing a Meghan Markle mask and an­other dressed as the Queen as she en­joyed a cup of tea.

On­look­ers told how they had trav­elled up to 12,000 miles for the big day. Lynda Moore, 70, from On­tario, Canada, said: ‘It’s just so great. We all love the royal fam­ily in Canada.

‘As you know Queen El­iz­a­beth is our monarch too. I think Prince Harry is a lovely young man and Meghan is very beau­ti­ful.’

Mary, 62, from Auck­land, New Zealand, added: ‘My sis­ter lives in Wind­sor so I thought, why not? To­day has been pretty hec­tic with the crowds. I can only imag­ine how busy it will be in Satur­day.’

To­mor­row, the newly-mar­ried cou­ple will emerge at 1pm af­ter an hour-long ser­vice at St Ge­orge’s Chapel. They will then be waved off in a black As­cot Lan­dau car­riage, built in 1883. That also got its first test run yes­ter­day sur­rounded by a mounted pla­toon of the House­hold Cav­alry. It was pulled by six Wind­sor Grey horses, in­clud­ing fa­ther and son steeds Storm and Ty­rone.

Well-wish­ers gath­ered to watch as the horse-drawn car­riage – with its shut­ters down and doors closed shut – made the 25-minute jour­ney wind­ing through the town be­fore mak­ing its way up the Long Walk to the cas­tle.

Be­hind it fol­lowed a team of po­lice of­fi­cers from the Diplo­matic Pro­tec­tion Group in a black Range Rover and by a green Land Rover.

With se­cu­rity tighter than ever, the roads around Wind­sor were closed for the re­hearsal and the route was lined with armed po­lice guards, while spe­cially-trained snif­fer dogs toured the route be­fore­hand. Of­fi­cers also stood on the tops of build­ings over­look­ing the crowds and walked around the town ask­ing shop work­ers whether they had seen any­thing sus­pi­cious.

The re­hearsal was planned to be used by Thames Val­ley Po­lice and the Metropoli­tan Po­lice – who guard the royals – as a means of as­sess­ing any po­ten­tial

‘It’s been pretty hec­tic with the crowds’ ‘A lot of hard work’

se­cu­rity threats or bot­tle­necks and crowd surges.

Fol­low­ing the re­hearsal, Ben Bathurst, the Gen­eral Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing joint mil­i­tary sup­port to the royal wed­ding, said: ‘From the mil­i­tary side of things, the cer­e­mo­nial re­hearsal went very well to­day. It is ev­i­dent that the sailors, sol­diers and air­men and women tak­ing part have put in a lot of hard work.’

Mil­i­tary pre­ci­sion: Royal Marines and sailors join the re­hearsal watched by thou­sands

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