Okay, I lied. I have one last part of my royal wedding diary! I was going to make this a separate Windsor Castle travel post, but it’s mostly about my personal wedding-related experiences that day. You can read Part One, Part Two and Part Three if you missed any of the other wedding weekend diary posts.
Here we go!
The day after the royal wedding could have felt a bit like a let down after all of Saturday’s excitement. But luckily, I had a trip to Windsor Castle planned!
Looking back, I’m really glad I had this outing and my weeklong trip to London scheduled after the wedding instead of the week before. Otherwise, I would’ve been pretty sad to go home after being on such a high.
Although I’d visited the castle once before, it had been about seven years and I was excited to go back. Mostly, I was pumped to see all of the wedding decorations in the chapel … and, I admit it, buy some official royal wedding souvenirs.
One last royal wedding interview
After the wedding, I thought I’d wrapped up all of my media appearances. But, surprise! When I was making my way through the crowd on The Long Walk after the carriage procession I actually got a phone call from a BBC Breakfast producer saying they loved my appearance that morning and wanted me to come back.
Having to be dressed and TV-ready by 6:30 a.m. was slightly less painful than my 3:30 a.m. pickup the day before. My royal wedding print dress from Next was perfect for the occasion!
BBC Breakfast sent a car for me and it was very weird to see the streets of Windsor so empty. There was hardly a soul around except a couple of stray reporters doing early morning broadcasts. It was a stark contrast to the jam-packed streets I’d experienced the two days prior. I headed past the Queen Victoria statue up the hill to Windsor Castle and called the producer.
The producer came out to greet me and another guest, a Girl Guide who had been invited inside the castle grounds as one of the “golden ticket” holders at the wedding. She showed me some of the pictures on her phone and it was really cool to see the celebrity guests arriving and to hear her stories (like what was inside the wedding gift bags!).
As we were standing outside Windsor Castle waiting for the crew, a car pulled up and out stepped David Emanuel! If you aren’t familiar, David and his then-wife designed Princess Diana’s wedding dress. He’s also on Say Yes to the Dress UK.
David was waiting outside the castle gates to do a media appearance, too. I mentioned how it was cool to see him and the BBC producer asked if I wanted a photo. She insisted on running over and asking him to pose with me, so there I went. He was very nice!
Finally, it was time for the interview, although we had some technical glitches. They couldn’t go live (the signal on the castle roof was not working), so the segment had to be taped. I chatted about my thoughts on Meghan’s dress and my experiences at the wedding in general.
After we wrapped up, I went back to my B&B and watched a bit of BBC Breakfast with my family while we ate. We didn’t catch my interview and unfortunately, I found out it didn’t end up making it on air after we watched the show online later. I wasn’t surprised since I wondered if they’d be able to fit my interview in amongst the live segments. I worked in PR and journalism for years, and this is one of those things that happens sometimes … c’est la vie!
After that, I got back in a taxi to Windsor Castle again. This time, the streets were considerably more crowded and the queue to get into the castle was huge.
Luckily, we had The London Pass which meant our admission was included and we didn’t have to wait in a separate line for tickets. That definitely made it easier with a young child, as we also had to go through airport-style security, which took a while. I always appreciate the extra safety measures so I didn’t mind waiting!
As we walked in, there were tons of media tents being taken down and people packing up from the wedding. You definitely got the sense that everyone in the press was clearing out and things in Windsor were getting slightly back to normal.
The grounds of Windsor Castle are absolutely beautiful. My husband and I remarked how it’s a shame that The Queen gets to live in this amazing place, but since it is open to the public year-round, she can’t use a large portion of it (at least not during visiting hours).
It’s not like we would walk by and expect her to be hanging out on that bench in the photo below or strolling past St George’s Chapel. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, as my buddy Shakespeare once said.
Only certain rooms of the castle are open to the public. You can visit the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the Semi-State Rooms and Grand Reception Room. Unfortunately, the latter two rooms weren’t open when we were there. You can only visit the Round Tower (pictured above) on select dates; this year it’s open August 1 through September 30.
The queue to see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House was very long and my son wasn’t going to be able to deal, so we skipped that part. I’d seen it before, and I didn’t want to wait in such a long line, either.
If you go to Windsor Castle, definitely check it out though because it’s really amazing how intricately detailed the dollhouse is. There are even special, tiny books written just for its library!
Once you step inside the castle, it’s all very impressive. Picture knights in armor, swords, huge, sweeping ceilings and intricate architecture. Basically, Windsor Castle is right out of a fairy tale. Sadly, you can’t take photos inside … which I didn’t realize until after I snapped one and a guard informed me. Whoops.
There are other wings where The Queen and the rest of the family stay when they’re in Windsor. And funnily enough, as we walked through the State Apartments, I looked out the window and saw someone I didn’t expect: Prince William!
A surprise Cambridge family sighting
A small group of people had gathered around the windows a little closer to where William was, so I walked over. They said The Queen had just driven away (I saw a car leaving as I was walking along the corridor, but didn’t realize it was her!) and that the kids and Kate hadn’t come outside just yet, but William had just put Lupo in the car. I watched in disbelief as William and Nanny Maria loaded his car with some bags.
A couple of staff members brought some things outside, but Prince William did most of the work. He took several trips in and out to pack up the car from their weekend trip, just like any other dad.
Well, minus the castle aspect. And the royal wedding being the reason for their weekend trip aspect.
As more people walked into the State Apartments the crowd grew, and soon enough there was a pretty decent sized group around the window. Everyone was taking videos and pictures and the castle staff started getting really cross and making people put their phones/cameras in their bags, which I totally understood. I have to admit I felt a little sheepish after taking one myself, but I was caught up in the excitement of seeing the Cambridges so unexpectedly.
Maybe ten or so minutes later Kate stepped outside. She was dressed very casually in skinny jeans and a button-up shirt, holding Prince Louis, who was wrapped up in a white blanket (it looked like it might have been the same one from the hospital). Kate and the baby then went around the other side of the car so I saw them very briefly.
A collective “awww” emitted from the people around me, especially when Princess Charlotte and Prince George came running out. Charlotte skipped across the courtyard (you could really see her bubbly personality!) and Prince George walked behind her. They got in the car fairly quickly and William buckled them in, and off they went.
When I stepped outside, a huge crowd was gathered around a railing that looked into the courtyard where Will and Kate’s car had been. People were really excited about seeing the family, and I was too. But the more I thought about it, I actually felt a bit sorry for the Cambridges that afternoon.
Royal or not, it would be stressful to not even be able to get into your car without people staring out a window and trying to take pictures of your children. I didn’t have my phone out at the time, but I wouldn’t have taken photos of the kids anyway because that felt like crossing the line.
I’ve only ever seen the royals at official events, so this whole “in the wild” experience did raise some interesting questions for me. Namely, should there be an expectation of privacy at a royal residence when it’s open to the public and the royals are in full view of tons of tourists? It’s still their home and they’re off-duty … but I feel like there’s no way people aren’t going to take pictures if there’s a royal right in front of them. It’s a tricky situation, for sure.
St George’s Chapel
Next on the list was the place where the magic happened: St George’s Chapel!
Once again, there was a huge queue. I then realized the chapel wasn’t opening for another two hours. We’d already done everything else, other than the souvenir shops, so there was no way we’d still be there when the chapel opened.
I was pretty disappointed, but then I found out you could get wristbands to come back into the castle. After indulging in some Christmas ornaments, china, and other assorted must-have souvenirs at the Middle Ward Shop (more on that in my next post), we decided to go into town to have lunch/walk around and then come back for St George’s Chapel.
We had a delightful al fresco lunch at Cafe Rouge (I had an elderflower and lemon drink in honor of Meghan and Harry!) and then visited some shops and an art gallery.
My husband and son decided not to return to Windsor Castle and instead they went to The Long Walk to play outside. Although I would have loved for them to come, I knew it was definitely not interesting for a 5-year-old and would be much easier to wait in the queue and deal with the heavy crowds in the chapel sans kid.
Luckily, the line moved fairly fast and soon enough I was standing where Harry and Meghan had said “I do” just 24 hours before.
I was really excited to see the wedding flowers and they did not disappoint. They smelled beautiful, too! Unfortunately, this is another place where no photos were allowed. However, everyone was taking pictures with these wedding flowers that were situated just as you leave the church, so I said “when in Rome” (or Windsor) and posed for one, too.
St George’s Chapel is absolutely stunning and it must have been such a special place to get married. I got goosebumps as I walked down the aisle. It’s hard to imagine the feeling Meghan must have had as she entered such a grand, historic building with all of those people watching. So surreal!
The only downside: It was VERY crowded and hard to move through the chapel. The last time I’d visited, there was hardly anyone there, so it was quite a different experience (but obviously, not a surprise because of the wedding). I was thrilled to be in the place where Harry and Meghan got married so it didn’t necessarily take away from my enjoyment too much.
After I bought a few things from the chapel shop and met up with my family, it was time to pack up and say goodbye to Windsor. It was very bittersweet leaving, even though I was excited about the adventures ahead in my favorite city.
I’ll never forget the feeling of love and happiness that emanated from the wedding crowds, the blue skies, friendships made, career highs and fun of this weekend. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event and I feel so blessed to have experienced it all!
If you go:
Windsor Castle is open year-round. Visit their website for current ticket costs and opening times. As it’s a working palace, sometimes the castle is closed for royal occasions and other special events (like the wedding!) so double check your dates in advance.
As I mentioned, Windsor Castle is included in The London Pass. I definitely recommend purchasing the pass if you plan on visiting other attractions in and around central London. It saves you a ton of money and time!
I’d allow at least two hours to visit the castle. The entrance queue was considerably shorter when I returned in the late afternoon to visit St George’s Chapel, so if you want to avoid the crowds it’s probably worth arriving after the morning rush. I was there on an exceptionally busy day, but because of the continued interest from the wedding, I would expect Windsor to be a little more crowded than usual for a while.
Windsor Castle is an easy day trip from London (just under an hour on the train) but it’s a charming town and worth a stay overnight. You can also explore Eton – it’s in walking distance – where Prince Harry and Prince William attended school. If I ever moved to England, I would live along the Thames in Eton!
There are several hotels on the high street in Windsor, which is great if you want to be right in the thick of things (more expensive, though!). I recommend Park Farm, the lovely bed and breakfast where we stayed. It’s about a mile and a half or so from the castle and just two miles from Legoland Windsor, so if you have kids it’s a great location for that.
Windsor Cars is a good taxi service. I used them several times and they were very reasonably priced and reliable, whether you’re going around town, to the airport or into London.
Have you ever been to Windsor Castle? If not, definitely put it on your must-visit list!
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