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Kate Hawkesby: What I've learned from London so far

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 8:22a.m.
Despite all the security and the police, everyone seems eager and ready for the royal wedding. (Photo / Newstalk ZB)

Two things I’ve learnt so far on this trip.

One; that it appears despite all manner of terror attacks, vile political situations and stretched budgets, the whole world appears to be travelling. This is our fifth time to London for work, and by far and away the busiest at every juncture, from the airports to the trains to the streets to the cabs to the underground to the parks.

Yes, there is a big event on, but we’re only ever here for big events. And it’s not just London. We had a stopover in LA and that was heaving too. People are moving around at pace. You hear on the streets every conceivable language from every corner of the globe. The bonus of being in a truly international city.

The other thing I’ve learnt is how much an event like this unites people. People in a common quest to to gawp at stuff so outside the framework of our usual mundane lives. Things that we can collectively marvel at, as the peasants we are, just observing the spectacle of it all.

Royals are not normal. Their weddings are something so off the charts we can but stand back and stare at the pomp and pageantry. It’s fascinating. Commuters are chatting about it, street vendors are peddling it, cabbies philosophising about it.

Like my cab driver today who was worrying what would become of their beloved bachelor boy Harry once he, as he put it, “shacked up with the American.” The lady selling squishies to my daughter asked if we would be here long enough for the wedding, when we said yes, she clapped and said “ohhhhh TREAT! Isn’t it going to be lovely?”

All the news and lifestyle shows are referencing the wedding. The scandal of Meghan’s Dad staging the fake paparazzi photos, and the embarrassment he’ll have caused the bride to be is a big story. News of his now grovelling apology for doing so has made the story all the more salacious.

But beyond the spectacle of it, there’s also a sense of attachment to the royals here.  We met an ex-cavalry soldier, 88 year old James Harper, an absolute gem who came up to us at changing of the guard and ushered us to the best spot to watch.

He was regaling us with stories of his time at war, and talking us through all the uniforms, the rifle regiments, the infantry, the cavalry, the blues and reds, pointing out which were ‘Harry’s men’. 

James said people often think the royals are just toy soldiers but he said Harry was the real deal. 

Four sleeps to go until he shacks up with the American.

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