John and Mary Webb (right and middle) take in the Royal Wedding at Swansea Town Hall.
To the inconvenience of everyone who lives on this side of the Atlantic, Prince William and Kate Middleton—er, make that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (their new official titles)—decided to have a morning wedding, meaning anyone who cared enough to watch the event live in Toronto was up well before sunrise to watch the nuptials.
At Swansea Town Hall, proud expatriate and city councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) hosted her own Royal Wedding viewing party. After an unsuccessful bid to have the City’s Economic Development and Culture Division consent to pubs opening at 6 a.m. today to accommodate collective viewing (apparently the liquor board and police chief weren’t having it), Doucette decided she’d provide residents with a big screen and a place to watch the event.
“I really just wanted a big screen,” said Doucette, sporting a bright red blazer and a red, white, and blue manicure. “Otherwise people would be watching alone. It’s more fun to do it together.”
The viewing room was decked out in streamers and balloons, with Union Jacks strewn across tables, and about 40 residents showed up—a few clad in fancy hats, many wearing at least one of the of the British flag’s colours—to catch the “Wedding of the Century.”
“It’s so exciting,” Doucette said as Middleton approached Westminster Abbey in a black Rolls-Royce on the screen behind her, at about 5:45 a.m. Doucette and her staff decorated the viewing room the night before, and made sure residents were treated with a spread of mini-sandwiches, cookies, scones, and tea steeped in a tea pot—the proper British way.
Also included in the morning’s festivities was a wedding card for residents to sign. Doucette will be sending it to Buckingham Palace, along with a request to hold the next royal wedding in the afternoon.
An excited councillor Sarah Doucette.
By 6 a.m., Catherine had entered Westminster Abbey, wearing a gorgeous—though modest—Alexander McQueen gown by Sarah Burton. There was lace, a long train, the whole bit. Prince William and his brother entered the cathedral about five minutes later. “Oh! Look at his hair! Do something about your hair,” one Royal Watcher shouted out as a shot of William and Harry came up on the screen. No, she wasn’t talking about William’s all-too-noticeable and ever-growing bald spot; Harry’s hair was askew. “That’s Harry,” one man replied, as if Harry was a close, personal friend whose grooming habits were well known to him.
The crowd watched attentively as the couple exchanged vows, collectively awww-ing, laughing as William struggled a bit with the ring, and applauding when the archbishop pronounced them man and wife. As Bishop of London Richard Chartles gave the address, with William and Catherine well out of view, the chatter in the room reignited, though quickly died down as they stood and sang along to hymns and “God Save the Queen.”
Among the early-morning viewers was Wendy Board, who moved to Canada from southeast England in the 1970s. She was up at 4 a.m. baking for the event, and pulled out her oversized headwear—a floppy white chapeau with a black ribbon—plus Canadian and British flags for the occasion.
“I thought it was a beautiful service,” Board said. “I’m glad we all sang along to the words of [the hymn] ‘Jerusalem.'”
John and Mary Webb have lived in the Swansea neighbourhood since they moved to Canada in the 1960s. They sat in the front row with their eyes glued to the screen throughout the wedding ceremony. “We had to be here to support our English tradition,” Mary said, adding she preferred to watch it with a group rather than at home, where she probably would have fallen back asleep.
By 8 a.m., only a few residents remained to catch William and his bride make their entrance on the Buckingham Palace balcony. Doucette encouraged her constituents to pack up leftovers and reminded them to sign the card.
See, you don’t need a pub to enjoy the event, she said. “A cup of tea and cucumber sandwiches—what else do you need?”
Photos by Carly Conway/Torontoist.