Vancouverites trade PJs for royal pageantry
Published Friday, April 29, 2011 9:38AM PDT
It's not often I wear a fancy hat and eat sugary scones at a hotel pre-dawn, but I think it's safe to say at least a few conventions were pushed aside Friday morning for the British Columbians who woke in the dead of night to watch the wedding of the century.
Wearing my best garden party dress and ‘fascinator,' I was among more than 100 die-hard royal watchers who descended on the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver at 3 a.m. to view the live broadcast of the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton from London's Westminster Abbey.
Like the sold out, 400 person event at Victoria's Empress Hotel, people are drawn to the Hotel Vancouver for its historical closeness to royalty. The Queen Mum and King George VI opened the hotel during their royal tour here in Vancouver in 1939.
"This is really the closest we can be to England, so there was no question we'd be here," said Candice Meagher, who was wearing her great grandmother's brown mink hat.
In fact, guests this morning dined on the very same 1939 bone china used by the royals while they feasted on stuffed eggs and "chicken supreme" during their official tour of British Columbia.
In Pictures: Trading PJs for royal pageantry
Tables of ladies, and the occasional gentleman, were glued to the big screen as Kate and Wills pronounced their love. There were audible sighs as William struggled for just a brief moment to secure the slim wedding band on his bride's petite finger.
The $29 ticketed event has been sold out for weeks. It included an English-inspired breakfast with bangers and roasted tomatoes, and a tiered dessert tray with stewed prunes, and the ultimate royal staple: scones with strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream.
Danielle Demkiw, who wore a fedora of her own creation decorated with greenery and multiple plumes, said there's nowhere she and her friends would have rather been.
"This is truly a once in a lifetime experience. It's a dream wedding," she said.
Guest Katie Green has a special connection to the monarchy: her maiden name is Middleton. She was even proposed to during high tea at a Victoria hotel.
"It's always been a bit of a joke," said her mother-in-law, Sharon Green, who made Katie a Kate Middleton pageant sash to wear. "We just loved the wedding – the dress, the kiss, the whole ceremony."
Hotel spokesperson Emily Armstrong said they needed a second seating and additional room in an adjacent lounge to accommodate the overflow.
The royal air was all around this morning, even down to the servers wearing full maroon tuxedo tails and white gloves.
"It's is truly a royal experience," Armstrong said.
Guests at the nearby Vancouver Shangri-La Hotel were also up early.
Mothers and daughters enjoying the hotel's "Princess Package" -- starting at $355 -- were woken up at 2 a.m. for tea and scones, clotted creams, finger sandwiches and a viewing in a private room.
The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria planned to party all day, with a $20 afternoon tea on the lawn for those who couldn't drag themselves out of bed.
An estimated two billion people worldwide watched today's festivities.
Have your say: Did you get up early to watch the royal wedding?