British Monarchist League
 
By:
 Scott Pepé.
Youth Co-ordinator, The British Monarchist League

A month on from the Royal Wedding, the Youth Co-Ordinator reflects on that magical day in April. 
“Blimey”, I said to my good friend Callum, the train’s empty, as we boarded the half past two to London on Thursday afternoon. ‘That’s because we’ll be the first up there’ he replied!  It didn’t take long for conversation to start on the train. The 3 union Jacks we had each – one as a cloak, the other two on sticks. Along with the deckchairs, tents and the gastronomic picnic rather gave away our intentions. “Going up to the wedding” most people asked. A lovely lady expressed her wish to join us but said she was having a street party instead. We must of spoken to 50 people on the hour long journey up, and whilst we got different 50 excuses of why our offer to join us for the camp out was turned down, we only got one response to the question “ but you are going to watch it right?’: “Of Course”

As we got off at Waterloo, one thing became clear. We were not the first people there! It was half 3 in the afternoon and as we passed Westminster Abbey the crowd was already 10 deep. Fortunately, that’s not where we wanted to camp! It was in front of Buckingham Palace for us! London looked amazing, like a girl on her prom night. Donned in red white and blue everywhere. Even the eye had been made up for the event. The short walk to The Mall  took us at least an hour. Everyone just wanted to talk to everyone else about the wedding, the Queen and how beautiful our city looked. Whitehall was spectacular! Every lamppost with the ceremonial union flag hanging from it, and then the bunting across the top. ‘This is what Britain should look like’, I thought.  We spent a lot of our walk taking pictures on behalf of tourists, but there was plenty of time of pictures of our own in front of the household cavalry and a particular stereotypical policeman. I am convinced that they picked the policeman on the basis of how stereotypical they were, everyone seemed to have the ‘ello, ello, ello’ voice! I made sure I wouldn’t be scrumpin’ any apples that night. In all seriousness , the Met did an outstanding job at the wedding and I cannot thank them enough. A moments thought at the Cenotaph and we were at the Admiralty building. What a sight she was. Lit up, with Union Jacks exploding from every angle and beyond her The Mall, looking exactly as it should. In the distance: Buckingham Palace with royal standard. It then sunk in… we were at the royal wedding.
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Wonderful Whitehall
We cut through Green park and managed to get a spot right in front of the palace. It was PACKED! We were next to a brilliant Filipino chap who had been here since Monday, Vernon and Mildred – a quintessentially British couple, some Irish guards (off duty) and naturally, some Americans. It was delightfully international and yet so British. A first snippet of the unity that the Monarchy brings.

Picnics and great conversation is what I shall remember that night for. We learned how a Canadian couple had brought their tickets the moment they had heard about the engagement. We met Simon Watkinson, who you may know from the T-Mobile ad. Staying stubbornly In character, he informed us that he was feeling a bit nervous about tomorrow. As the flasks of tea went down, and the consumption of scotch eggs went up, conversation moved on to why we are here, and why we are monarchists.  We are well rehearsed in the arguments for monarchism. You can imagine what came up. ‘We don’t get to celebrate Britishness enough, this is our one opportunity” was a big one.  The Americans said that lots of people in America remain fascinated by an institution they no longer have. The Americans have an enormous respect for tradition, heritage and national celebration. But being a nation for less than 250 years a lot of it seems artificial: July 4th and the constant worshiping of the star spangled banner she noted as examples. The British monarchy does not have an artificial feel at all. It seems like it’s been there for a very long time. That’s just how I like it. When my grandmother showed me pictures of when her and my grandfather went to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip I had long dreamt of attending such an occasion. Now I was there, and it all looked exactly how it should have done. It was strange to think that I was sitting where my mother and father had for the wedding of Charles and Diana, and where my grandparents had done before. Once again, it optimised the continuity and tradition that we all love about the British Monarchy.

We tried to sleep but it was hopeless. Everyone was too excited and I had to be up in a few hours for an Interview. By the time 6’o clock came round it was time to trudge through to the media centre. Again, the scale was astonishing. News teams from everywhere. The Americans occupied the most space (The CNN tent was astonishing – f1 motorhome style). There were also teams from Africa, Asia and South America. I was given my pass and taken up to Nicky Campbell who undoubtedly had the best view in town – from the top of big green building many of you will have seen on the television. I was on after a brilliant American (James I think) who had set up a website for Americans who loved Britain. He was almost as excited as me. Suddenly I was on air, only then did it sink in that I was talking to Nicky Campbell, who speaks from my radio most days and my television every Sunday morning. Tired and star struck I feel I  gave a mediocre interview but fortunately the feedback was very positive. After the LBC one though, I was disappointed. Back to the tent and to wake Callum up (he got his standard 6 hours). The time was 7 o’clock… four hours to go!
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View from our tent
For those who say the Monarchy does not represent Britain, I wish I could invite them to the four hours leading up to the wedding. The Buckingham palace speakers poured out Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia etc. How the crowd responded. I lead the singing from Callum’s shoulders - to rapturous applause…. Who knows if they were clapping my singing, or the fact I had stopped. The front of Buckingham Place was really filling up and by 8 ‘o clock they had closed the entrance to Buckingham from Green Park. It was also beginning to get really noisy in anticipation. The television channel Blighty was handing out free periscopes, so we could all see what was going on. At 9:00 the red cover for the Balcony was on and by 10:00 Buckingham palace was beginning to wake up. We sensed movement.
                                                      
I will never forget the moment I first saw Her Majesty Elizabeth II in person. I was sitting on Callum’s shoulders and before I noticed she was coming I had 50 cameras shoved at me demanding I took a photo. The roar was incredible. These were not people who wanted a republic! These were people who were truly grateful for HM’s service to our county, and didn’t she look fantastic. If the arrival of the Queen was signalled by the mass accumulation of cameras, then the arrival of Catherine Middleton to The Mall was signalled by noise. It was incredible! She looked absolutely stunning and she seemed so attentive to crowd.  I’m glad she went to the mall before the wedding, to properly thank the people who had camped out to see her at least!
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The first time I saw HM The Queen. Note her waving at me!
Despite the lack of TV screens outside the palace, the wedding itself was still a lovely occasion. It was dead silent when the ceremony was happening, but erupted into voice during the hymns and of course when they were officially married.

When they got back the crowd were hysterical! It was the first time we had seen Prince William because he had left from Clarence House further down. It was amazing to be so close to the people that anything up to 2billion could be watching. I adored the pomp and circumstance. The carriages, the cavalry and the uniforms. It was all judged to perfection. It’s what we do best – always have done and always will. I was so proud that our country was pulling this off so well. It was everything we had imagined and more.
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge return from Westminster Abbey – what a view
Once The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had disappeared into the palace, a rapid pack away operation begun. We had to be ready to sprint to the railings when the Police let the barriers down. We were ready to run at 1:15 and at about 1:20 as I seem to remember it they let us run for the railings. I can’t really remember what happened in those few minutes. I ended up with a very bruised arm and a cut on my neck. I didn’t notice until I got home - funny things excitement can do to you! After a mad rush, I managed to clasp one of the black railings. I was there. In the front row. Then, at 1:25 the moment the world had been waiting for, the moment I had been up for 31 hours for happened. Those doors were opened and the newlyweds emerged.

(covers ears)

It was amazing. I was actually there!  I never thought I would hear a louder noise than when they came out…that was until they kissed! The most amazing moments were perhaps when my mind considered the situation I was in. I was at the front of an event 1 in 3 people in the world were watching. I was looking at the Queen on the balcony – something my forbears have done before me. I fell out of my daze very quickly and looked behind me. Probably the most amazing thing I have seen in my life. The Victoria monument, one million people and a Spitfire, Hurricane and the Avro Lancaster. Some old planes and the Queen on one day? Blimey. 
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My view from the railings. Note HM The Queen catching my eye AGAIN!
The fly past was absolutely fantastic too! Have a look at my video here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=2020084388829.  It was such an apt finish to what was a truly amazing day that I was very privileged to  experience.

It was not quite the end of course: the walk back to Waterloo took 2 hours in sweltering heat! I was shattered and then, the first train home was completely full. Did it ruin my day? Impossible! I was buzzing! Next train home, shower, bed and I put the royal wedding on!

Watching the Royal Wedding on TV afterwards was lovely, but nothing in comparison to being there.  Being able to see the service was a major plus for you guys I’ll admit! I loved the bit where Katherine smiled as the crowd roared from outside. I also thought that William saluting the cenotaph and Catherine bowing her head was extremely moving.

‘Bloody hell Scott’ you’re thinking. I was expecting a huge discussion on how the Royal Wedding showed the monarchy to be constitutionally right for this country. I was expecting all the politics to come out. You’ve just given me a blow by blow account of your day – ‘fantastic’. That is true and I’m hugely apologetic to those who found this immensely boring! But I think you don’t need any more justification than this as to why the Monarchy must stay. A head of state is not the government; a head of state is the symbolic head of the nation.  If the Royal Wedding was not the most symbolic, celebrated event of my lifetime then I would ask what is. One million people do not attend the weddings of Presidents, for a president does not represent the tradition, history and circumstance of a country. Our Royal family provides the British with a well-earned opportunity to celebrate our britishness. Hence the fly past, hence the patriotic music. It was so refreshing to see everyone unashamed to wave their union jack with pride. When Royals have a state occasion, it actually means something. President Blair trooping the colour? No thanks.

The Royal Wedding was a comprehensive endorsement of British Monarchism. For every one person that attended the republican street party there were over 5 entire street parties. For every one person that went to their bitter shindig one thousand went to the mall. More turned up to Wills and Kate than they did to Charles and Diana. I notice that Republic moved on from the wedding very quickly. That’s because in their eyes, it was a very big failure.

I should thank the Met again they were grand, Kate, Vernon, Mildred and everyone else I spent the night with. And of course Callum, whose shoulders were exhausted! It really was one of the best days of my life. Why? Not just because I saw the Queen and the Kiss. But because everything I believed in, the monarchy, the British people and the pomp and circumstance of our country had gone out there today and played a blinder. The polls that said 79% of people weren’t interested were blown out of the window, the rumours that there would be hoards of trouble makers were ousted and fears (hoes if you’re a republican) that we would all drown turned out to be unfounded. We used to rule the waves, but our influence has slowly declined. On April 29th however, for once, the world was interested in Britain again. Dozing off on the train home, I was so proud to have been there, so proud to be a monarchist.
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Myself (left) and Callum (Right) with the Americans)
 


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