One of our very own community royals added some Southmead shine to one of the country’s most prestigious events of the year (the Southmead Festival being THE most prestigious!) Deana Perry was one of the lucky few to be invited to see Harry & Meghan tie the knot. Deana is on the royal radar due to her hard work for our community and also, it’s rumoured, because she’s caught the eye of Prince Charles (watch out husband Colin!). Thank you Deana (or Diana!) for sending your story and snaps to The Mead.
By Deana Perry.
In April I was informed that there was a letter for me to pick up from Greenway which I picked up a few days later. It was addressed to ‘Diana Perry’ and I literally threw it in my handbag and opened it on the bus on my way to the Mall. When I realised it was an invitation to the Royal Wedding I said “Oh my God Oh my God” over and over and then had to stop because people were looking at me funny.
1200 people that volunteer or do charity work were invited to the grounds of Windsor Castle to take part in the Wedding. We were allowed a plus one so my beautiful daughter Lucy was mine. Nobody in her office believed her until I sent them a picture of the invitation!
We were up at 5 am on the day to catch a coach to Windsor Castle and we travelled up with people that were going to line the streets for the procession. We arrived at 8.15 am and then got a bit lost and ended going the wrong way which wasn’t helped by the Policemen that weren’t local but had been drafted in from across the country. We ended up walking over an hour and a half and because we had to be at a certain entry point by 10 am we were rushing – my daughter in front shouting “come on mum” and me behind saying “I can’t go any faster!”. At one point I lost my hat to a hanging basket as I had my head down and was going for it and didn’t even see the blooming thing! Having paid a lot of money for the hat and it being the first time I have ever worn one I wasn’t about to leave it on the pavement! When Lucy looked back to see how far behind I was she was not amused.
We finally got to the entry point with 5 minutes to spare and then had to go through at least 5 lots of security to get our wristbands that allowed us entry. Having never been to Windsor Castle it was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, and the grounds are magnificent. We were divided into groups and told which area to stand in, and thanks to Lucy we managed to get to the front and had a brilliant view as we were situated half way between Windsor Castle and St George’s Chapel.
Around 11.30 am wedding guests started arriving – some were walking and others were in coaches. We saw Posh and Becks, George and Amal Clooney, James Corden, Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, and then when Serena Williams walked by Lucy nearly passed out. Then came the Royals with Harry stopping the car that him and William were in right in front of us. They both got out and everyone was cheering as they walked to the Chapel together. When the Queen went past I did have a little cry as I will never be that close to her again. She has been our Queen forever and to be within a few feet of her was so special.
The service was broadcast on a loudspeaker and we all cheered at the special moments. Everyone had brought a packed lunch so we sat down and ate ours and thank God I took an umbrella to shade us as it was so hot. Just after 1 pm the newlyweds appeared to loud cheers and we got to watch all the celebs and Royals walk back up to the Castle. Harry and Meghan were in their beautiful carriage and of course some of the Royals were in cars. You could tell how famous/important they were by the loudness of the cheers.
Just after 1.30 pm the gift shop was opened and of course Lucy wanted to buy a souvenir. It was so hot and crowded in there I nearly came straight back out but went to the till with Lucy instead. The assistant asked where our discount card was and we said we didn’t have one. She told us that it should have been in our gift bag and we said that as we were late we didn’t get one. The lady said “Stay right there-I’m going out the back to look”, and she reappeared five minutes later with what she told us were the last two. They contained a bottle of water, packet of shortbread, a chocolate coin, fridge magnet, and a Windsor Castle leaflet with a map for guests.
We then spent a while walking through the grounds and soaking up the atmosphere which was all a bit surreal. You had to keep pinching yourself to make sure that you were really there. We decided to make our way back to the Coach park which was next to Windsor Train Station. As we left the grounds of the Castle and started making our way through the streets it was so difficult even to see which way to go as there were literally thousands of people celebrating and cheering. Our journey was not easy because Windsor Train Station had been closed due to overcrowding, so we had to find another way to get to our coach and without Lucy as a guide I would never have found it. Having walked for the best part of two hours I have never been so grateful to sit down and take my shoes off.
All the ladies on the coach wanted to know every detail and Lucy kindly sent all the pictures and videos from the day to their mobile phones. On the journey home I discovered that the lady that was sat in front of us belonged to the church in Knowle West that the choir that sang at the wedding came from. Harry and Meghan had actually been to meet the choir to discuss what they wanted them to sing on the day. We got back to Bristol at 6 pm and all agreed to meet for the next Royal Wedding.
It was a wonderful day that Lucy and myself will never forget and I am so grateful to the person that nominated me although I will probably never know who it was.
Hopefully we will be invited to another wedding soon so that my outfit (and hat) will not go to waste. Southmead can be proud that a ‘Meader’ went to the Royal Wedding and for me it was a real honour.