If you have ever wondered what it was like attending a royal wedding, you can wonder no more. Former royal editor for The Sun, Duncan Larcombe was only one of six journalists to receive a coveted invitation to the 2011 ceremony of Prince William to then Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey. He shared his experience with Elle.co.uk.
Royal weddings are not like most other ceremonies. Larcombe said: “It’s a very weird experience, kind of like sitting in Madame Tussauds with moving waxwork.
“It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. You know when you’re there that you’re watching history unfold in front of your eyes.
“It’s not like any wedding I’ve ever been to. If you like people watching there’s probably nothing better than a royal wedding. There isn’t a room that has that many famous and royal people all under one roof.”
Prince William might be royalty, but that does not mean he does not suffer from typical human wedding-day nerves. The Sun‘s former royal editor explained that before Catherine arrived, William composed himself in a room alongside Prince Harry. He added, “We were sat near there, so they both walked straight past us and William looked absolutely terrified. They came out afterwards and gave a deep breath.”
Obviously, royal weddings require secrecy, and Larcombe and the other journalist guests were sworn to secrecy about their invite. He said, “We were told in advance about two or three weeks before that we were invited, but we were told not to tell anybody. They wouldn’t have wanted word to get out amongst other journalists.”
The arrival of the bride can silence a room filled with hundreds, and Catherine Middleton was no exception. Westminster Abbey went completely silent upon her arrival with the only noise coming from the crowds outside, reported Larcombe. He added that the “build-up for the bride’s arrival, they probably don’t come much bigger than that.”
As for the seating arrangements? At royal weddings, everyone has their place. Royal protocol dictates how the guests are seated with politicians in one area, foreign royals in another. Then, the British Royal Family were sat together in another section, he explained.
A person’s rank or fame did not matter. Everyone was treated equally; he explained, “It was quite clear at the wedding that no matter if you were the Sultan of Brunei or a guy who’s been at Sandhurst with William, or a big Hollywood star, everyone got there early…Everyone was sat in the same sort of seats. You can have one of the world’s richest men sitting there in the same fold-out chair that Joe Bloggs was in, which was a nice touch.”
Like most royal events, you spend a lot of time waiting around. Larcombe said that the wait for Catherine’s arrival “felt like forever.” However, he attributed this to the fact that they arrived much earlier than everyone else, “We were probably there for two hours before she arrived. The other guests were probably waiting for around an hour.”
William and Kate’s wedding was not necessarily “their” day. It was centred around formality and tradition. Many on their guest list, thanks to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, were invited as to “avoid any diplomatic issues with people being snubbed.”
He added that their wedding could not be compared to other weddings because “in terms of their actual friends, they probably only had a couple of hundred including work mates mixed in with 1,000 other people.”
You can debate how much of the day was about the bride and groom. Although William and Kate were bound by protocol, they did try to make the day their own. He said that they looked “very happy” and that there were “little touches that were important to the bride and groom on a day that really wasn’t their’s.”
No two royal weddings are the same, and he also spoke about what he thought would be different for Harry’s wedding. Harry does not have the weight of being heir to the throne on his shoulders when planning his day. Larcombe said, “William is the heir to the throne, so it was a big national occasion, Harry will want to do everything he can to avoid that. William would have loved to avoid that but obviously, he couldn’t.”
He stated that he thinks Harry’s wedding will be “really interesting” regarding the location they choose and its scale. Although, the former royal editor did say he would be shocked if Harry’s wedding was not televised adding, “I think they’ll have to do that to compromise. It could be on a par with William and Kate’s as a television event because Harry’s popularity spans the globe.”
Larcombe is now an unofficial biographer of Prince Harry, and we could see another royal wedding soon. Perhaps Larcombe will receive another royal invite? Regarding this topic, he said, “I hope I get invited to that one, that would be nice.”