Anglophiles gather to watch royal wedding

April 29, 2011 2:27:34 PM PDT
About two dozen royal family faithful who gathered before dawn at a British pub and inn in Half Moon Bay were not disappointed this morning with the highly anticipated nuptials of Prince William of Wales and longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton.

The ex-pats and other Anglophiles at Cameron's Restaurant and Inn said they got up for the 3 a.m. PST ceremony to witness history, and were happy with everything from the couple to the dress to the extravagant ceremony and procession.

"My husband thinks I'm crazy staying up all night to watch it," British expatriate Angela Hey said as she sat at the bar drinking tea. "But on American TV you can't see the whole thing. They chop it up with advertisements."

The couple wed at Westminster Abbey and then rode by carriage to Buckingham Palace, where they kissed twice in front of throngs of people before a ceremonial WWII Lancaster bomber flew overhead.

Half Moon Bay residents Abi and Hayley Grassler, 14-year-old twin sisters, were among the revelers at Cameron's who cheered when the couple leaned in to kiss.

The girls had read about the restaurant viewing and decided they wanted to attend, according to their mother, Patti Holt.

"It seemed more fun to get up," than to watch the footage later, Holt said, as the trio ate a British breakfast of bangers and mash and sausage.

She said the family thought it would be an adventure to join the more than 2 billion people worldwide who were expected to tune in live. "It's the royal wedding," Hayley said. "It happens once or twice in a lifetime."

The girls were among the many viewers who thought Middleton's white and ivory gown, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, lived up to expectations. Speculation has surrounded the gown for weeks with only the name of the designer released ahead of time.

"Oh that's beautiful," gasped Adora Palmer, mother of restaurant owner Cameron Palmer, when Middleton emerged, her dress featuring detailed beading, pleating, a two-yard train, and long, lacey sleeves.

"It seemed Elizabethan in a way," Palmer said later, adding that she expects the dress to be a trendsetter.

She and her husband Alan, a native of Newcastle, England, said they wouldn't have missed watching the wedding live - both because they wanted to enjoy the event with a crowd and because they wanted to be able to tell Alan's family they got up for it.

"It was pretty impressive," Alan Palmer said of the ceremony and procession, which included Rolls Royce limousines, historic carriages, and mounted guards in gleaming breastplates. Elaborate hats seemed to adorn nearly every female head in Westminster Abbey.

"It was British pageantry at its finest," Palmer said.

Adora Palmer added that knowing the history of the couple, this wedding seemed happier than the ceremony uniting Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

"I just think it's nice for the world to take a break from bad news and focus on this fairy tale story," she said.

Hey, the other British ex-pat, agreed with the Palmers that Middleton, who is not descended from royalty, was a good choice for Prince William. The couple met as undergraduates at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

"Charles made the mistake of not marrying the woman he loved," Hey said. "And it's good for the royal genes to get a commoner."

She recalled watching the wedding between Princess Diana and Prince Charles from a motel in Florida while her family was vacationing at Disney World.

Cameron Palmer said his restaurant was inundated with mourners after Princess Diana was killed in 1997.

"It's kind of neat to have a crowd here for something positive - for her son getting married," he said.

The venue will continue celebrating the royal nuptials throughout the day with footage of the wedding rolling on several TV screens.

A royal wedding cake will be served at a party tonight, and in honor of the new duke and duchess of Cambridge, revelers with the first name William will be treated to a pint of Guinness while Elizabeths and Kates will get free glasses of champagne, Palmer said.

Middle names count as well, but valid ID must be presented.

"Since I announced that, I've been surprised how many people's names are Caitlin, Kate, Katie, Beth, Elizabeth, Bill, William, Billy," Palmer said.

Visitors are also encouraged to sign a guest book that will be sent to the newlyweds.


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