Yesterday’s royal wedding brought back some memories, though not, perhaps, as many as it should have done. When we were both 17, my schoolfriend Richard Morris and I camped overnight on the Mall, in order to watch Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer make their wedding journey. I remember the fireworks party in Hyde Park and the fact that the crush of people made it rather difficult to leave at the end (and a bit frightening, if the truth be told). I remember collecting a first edition of the day’s newspaper from Victoria Station at around Midnight, though I don’t remember which one; I have an awful fear that it almost certainly would have been the Daily Mail. I remember the night itself being surprisingly cold and not so surprisingly uncomfortable. I remember going in search of a mug of tea and a bacon sandwich at around 5 in the morning – and finding an Italian cafe open between Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. I vaguely remember being given (or did I have to buy) a cardboard periscope, so that we could look over the heads of those in front of us. It was, I’m pretty sure, absolutely useless.
I remember absolutely nothing about the procession. I’m not sure that we even saw Diana’s coach. Whether or not we watched the couple come out on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace, I’m unsure. I’d like to think we did, but I have an awful fear that we were both so exhausted we might have retired to my father’s flat in Kensington and watched the rest of the proceedings on TV.
Yesterday, I stayed at home, sat on the sofa and watched the BBC. I’m not sure what the lasting memories of the day will be, but I did find the whole event surprisingly moving. It was evident that the bride and groom have real affection for each other and that, nerves apart, they were genuinely enjoying the occasion. The hymns were well chosen. There was, perhaps, a little too much Rutter, but I thought most of the music was splendid. And the moment when William and Catherine made their vows was wonderful. I had a sense that I was truly watching history in the making.
For the morning, I joined much of the rest of the viewing millions in becoming a self-styled fashion expert. I tutted when I saw that Samantha Cameron was not wearing a hat. I marvelled at the cappuccino octopus that Princess Beatrice was wearing on her head. And I did actually shed a tear when I saw Catherine’s dress; sad, sad man that I am.
The people spotting was fun. I was slightly perturbed to see Mohamed Al-Fayed walking down the aisle of Westminster Abbey. This, it seemed to me, was taking royal forgiveness rather to an extreme. Discovering that it was actually the King of Tonga that I had spotted was a relief. It was good to see my old friend and mentor, Garth Morrison, belting out Jerusalem in the “Knights’ enclosure”. Elton John looked tired, whilst David Furnish looked wide-awake, suggesting that it’s currently Elton’s turn to do the night feeds. And, as the procession made its way back to the palace, it was wonderful to see the large number of Scouts who had been selected to line the route.
I hope that what I will remember, however, will be the overriding feeling of pride that I had in Britain. Crowds of happy people, who had turned out specially to watch their future monarch get wed. A superbly choreographed event. And what seemed like a whole nation (apart from those who chose to go to Ikea instead) joining as one to wish two people well on a very special day. I’m really not sure that this could happen anywhere else in the world.