Canadians eager to soak in all things royal
Garden party at the palace follows Harry and Meghan’s big day
LONDON — Nicola Day’s flight to London will land just hours before Prince Harry is set to wed Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle, and she’s determined not to let jet lag stand in her way.
The Kingston, Ont., resident expects to spend the first hours searching for a place to watch Saturday’s spectacle.
But the main reason she and her husband are heading to Britain is for another royal event — a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the work of The Prince’s Charities, which supports the philanthropy of Prince Charles.
Steve Day scored an invitation as a graduate of an entrepreneur program run by the 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 on Tuesday, May 22.
“It’s all in the private portion of
Buckingham Palace that the public can’t get access to, so that’s why it’s kind of neat,” he says.
Word is that the newlyweds have reportedly chosen the celebration as their first official event as a married couple.
“I feel an affinity with Prince Harry as a retired vet who’s fought in Afghanistan. I like what he’s doing to support veterans,” says Day, who spent more than a year of cumulative duty in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2011.
Nicola Day says she’s watching videos of past garden parties to nail
down the protocol and is fretting over her attire.
“Let me tell you, it’s hard to find a nice hat in Kingston,” she says.
“So I may just have to look when we actually get to London and I’ll probably spend a fortune. But I may just have to do it because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Nicola Day says the party will include high tea and a formal parade, in which the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will move through the guests.
The couple also 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 an hour and 20 minutes from downtown London by car.
The town of Windsor expects 100,000 visitors to see the newlyweds travel in procession after the ceremony.
Experts expect the number of visitors to the U.K. will increase after the wedding, but some agents report already seeing a spike in interest because of the nuptials, according to an informal survey by TLNetwork.ca.
A spokeswoman for Expedia. ca says it has 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 has seen an increase in Canadian bookings for his agency, which offers tours. He says they’ve added an early morning tour Saturday that will visit royal landmarks and conclude with a screening of the wedding at a pub in central London.
Visiting professor Christabelle Sethna says she’ll likely catch the festivities on television like most of the world, even though she is 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’t help but find the royal couple’s Hollywood love story enthralling.
Sethna finds her British friends and work colleagues rather uninterested in the whole affair.
“I’m the most enthusiastic for many reasons,” 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 “strangely connected” to Markle, who detailed her favourite Hogtown haunts on social media while shooting her TV series Suits.
“The fact that Meghan Markle ... went to yoga classes and juice bars and had a big pack of girlfriends, I think many, many women can identify with her Toronto lifestyle,” says Sethna, who used to live in the same neighbourhood linked to Markle.
“Of course, Toronto wants to feel that it’s at the centre of everything, and being from Toronto I completely understand that feeling ... It got to be the host for this relationship and I think that’s wonderful.”
Steve Day meets with Prince Charles at CFB Trenton on June 30, 2017. Canadian visitors to London are eager to soak in the royal wedding celebrations.