Posts Tagged ‘Correspondent’

After immersing myself in the Royal Wedding prep and dabbling in the realm of foreign correspondence, the day of the Royal Wedding finally arrived. As excited as everyone was for the parade and celebration, I think most Londoners were excited for an extra day off.

Waking Up Early

To walk the wedding route so many times and not see the parade would have been crazy. So I did what only a few of my colleagues were doing, I woke up offensively early on a national holiday to stand outside in the cold snag a spot along the parade route. While this was incredibly painful – because it was early in the morning, not because I was hung over – it reminded me of the times I got up early as a kid for the 4th of July parade in Wisconsin.

I'm either practicing my Popeye impersonation or about to cause trouble.

Around 7 a.m. the route was four, sometimes five, people deep from the fences with little hope for in sight. Thankfully, a few late sleepers gave me a chucking and I didn’t feel so bad about my situation.

Eventually, relief came in the form of an open gateway across from the Horse Guard Parade. My spot was at a turn in the parade route and I think most people hadn’t settled there for fear that they wouldn’t see anything or that they were missing out on an even better spot close to Buckingham Palace, a terrible mistake on their part. From this turn, several thousand commoners were able to watch the Royals and foreign dignitaries pass by in Bentleys and Rolls Royces, while the second hour of 50 degree weather slowly crept into our bones.

A Hush of Silence and Collective “Aww”

As the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh passed our location, the Chief Superintendent for the London Metropolitan Police department meandered over to my area of the fence and in a voice just above a whisper said, “She’s 90 seconds away.” The procession was planned so meticulously that you could hold a stop watch to it and now were only 90 seconds away from seeing the woman two billion people were waiting to see.

Each car that had passed earlier in the procession received a loud cheer and applause as they went by but when Kate Middleton’s car approached, the crowd grew silent as everyone shifted for the best possible view. As her car slowly drove by, the air was filled with a soft and collective “Awwww.”

To everyone that “grew up” with William and Harry or watched William and Kate’s relationship develop, Kate was very much their Cinderella.

It’s said that when Kate arrived at the altar, the Duke of Cambridge looked at his bride and told her she looked beautiful. I think everyone along the parade route thought the same thing… And then most of us guys remembered it was her wedding day and we would have to settle for her attractive sister, Pippa. (Don’t worry guys, I handle this one.)

What You Didn’t See on TV

To the international media and out of town guests, the Royal wedding was like a college party. The host, London, got everything ready, all of the attendees were dressed to impress, the pictures looked great, the event had plenty of alcohol, and everyone got home safely. The downside for London is having to clean up the mess, steam clean the drapes*, and find out what happened to the awesome mixed CD we made for the party.

My friend Etosha and I walked the parade route a few days after the wedding and things were starting to look normal but it will take the flowers a little time to recover.

We made a few stops during our walk and noticed that only a few thousand barricades remained, the massive TV studios and scaffolding were starting to come down, and it wasn’t tough to find cheap trash and trinkets souvenirs.

While is would be a perfect opportunity to remind everyone that weddings are amazing and that the Royal Wedding is really about two people falling in love, I imagine Katie Couric beat that story to a pulp before she even landed in London. However, it’s good to recognize that this wedding was culturally important to the United Kingdom because it was a celebration of Great Britain’s traditions and heritage.

Planning Notes for My Future Wedding

1)      As the groom, it’s okay to wear a red jacket.

2)      You can throw an awesome party if you’re willing to spend £34 million.

3)      Find out what Pippa Middleton is doing in 2014.

4)      Make the wedding program available on iTunes.**

5)      The international media loves weddings. Save a space for Hessischer Rundfunk’s satellite truck.

6)      Make sure someone always has a camera on them – even during the planning stages.

Cheers,

Joe

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* It was a good college party when you find empty PBR and Natty Light cans behind your couch. It was a great party when you needed to rent a steam cleaner.

** You can download The Official Royal Wedding Program for free from iTunes.

“You’re going to be there for the Royal Wedding!” – The average female response when I announced my move to London.

Just when you thought all of the Royal Wedding news and nonsense was over, here’s a firsthand look at my immersion into all things Will and Kate and live in London leading up to the Royal Wedding. My apologies if you’re exhausted from nonstop William and Kate news. I’m in the same boat as you but this was an exciting time for me and my first opportunity to be a “foreign correspondent.”

Becoming a Royal Wedding Commentator

A few days after arriving in London, I received a Facebook message from a TV producer and friend in Chicago asking if I could chat about the Royal Wedding excitement during a few morning broadcasts.  To say I jumped at the opportunity is an understatement. Being a “foreign correspondent” or “man on the ground” for one of the world’s largest weddings is exactly the type of opportunity and challenge that interests me.

I called into the station twice and only chatted for a combined total of 2-3 minutes but love it. To prepare for the phone conversations I spent hours immersing myself in everything related to the Royal Wedding. While newspaper articles, gossip columns, BBC, and royal family’s Twitter handle were all helpful, the best insight and experiences came from walking the parade route and touring Westminster Abbey.

Searching for the Subtle Changes

During my five to six “fact finding missions” along the parade route, some of the best changes were subtle – like the discrete TV cameras installed at Westminster Abbey to show Kate Middleton’s walk down the aisle and watching the flowers outside Buckingham Palace changing from yellow to red. These changes were my favorite because unless you kept your eyes open, you missed them.

Cameras were mounted on pillars in Westminster Abbey to capture Kate Middleton’s walk down the aisle. Technically, you aren’t allowed to take photographs inside the abbey but if you don’t use your flash and pretend to be praying, no one will say anything to you.

On each side of Westminster Abbey’s entrance is a fake building that hid TV cameras. The large rectangles in each side of the temporary buildings were removable panels.

The Metropolitan Police, MI5 (the UK equivalent to Homeland Security), and the military played an important role on the wedding day but unknown to most is the presence they played leading up to the wedding. I chatted with a few officers during one of my walks and learned that the week of the wedding the parade route and neighboring parks were under 24 hour surveillance and the Royal Guards practiced drills along the parade route in the dead of night.

Changes With a “Wow” Factor

None of the changes were so monumental that they completely blew me away. Most of them were actually expected – a Union Jack on every corner, an over abundance of international media, people willing to camp out for days just to catch a glimpse of William and Kate as they leave Westminster Abbey. But it was tough to see some of them and not be astounded.

Four days before the wedding, Monday, the first camper arrived outside Westminster Abbey and he was a character. This clearly wasn’t his first camp out because upon arrival he walked up to the first Press Association photographer he saw and declared himself as the first camper. Decked head to toe in Union Jack items, this guy was all over the place and he reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 3.

Lining the parade route were thousands upon thousands of fences. In order to get everything set up on time, flatbed semi-trucks and fork lifts were a frequent sight along the parade route.

To capture every second of the Royal Wedding craziness, the international media set up studios on roof tops, in parks, and across from Buckingham Palace. The left half of this picture is a three story broadcast studio, featuring 33 individual studios, across from Buckingham Palace. The right half is a two story broadcast platform across from Westminster Abbey. Both were built specifically for the wedding.  (Note: Having a blog did not grant you access to the media center across from Buckingham Palace.)

My Broadcast Debut (Please keep your laughter to yourself.)

Monday, April 25th – 4 Days Before the Wedding

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Thursday, April 28th – 1 Day Before the Royal Wedding

Many thanks to everyone that “Liked” these videos on Facebook, commented, or sent me a note. I really appreciate the support.

For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I broke my original post into two parts. Thanks for sticking with me and check back tomorrow for a “commoner’s perspetive” of the wedding day. (Teaser: I was along the parade route.)

Cheers,

Joe