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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle kiss on the steps of St George's ChapelWPA Pool/Getty Images

When Toni Leblanc’s sister suggested they book a last-minute flight to Britain to watch the royal wedding in Windsor, Ms. Leblanc was leery and had to be convinced.

On Saturday, as she stood at the back of a crowd of people lining the Long Walk outside Windsor Castle, she knew the trip had been worth it when she caught a glimpse of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as their carriage procession passed by.

“It was unbelievable,” said Ms. Leblanc, 69, who lives near St. John’s. “The crowd just parted for a moment and I saw Meghan and Harry.”

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Ms. Leblanc and her sister, Mickey Crocker, were among the estimated 100,000 people who jammed Windsor’s sidewalks, roadways, stairways and park paths hoping to feel some kind of connection to the royal marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are now officially known.

Many camped out overnight to win a prime spot along the route of the carriage procession and thousands started arriving as early as 5 a.m. on Saturday, roughly seven hours before the start of the service at St. George’s Chapel. As the sun beat down and the temperature soared, the gathering took on the air of a festival with a brass band playing top 50 hits and a “rock choir” belting out popular songs.

The city set up a series of giant television screens throughout the Long Walk, a park that stretches from the castle, and the crowd roared at the first sight of Ms. Markle in her wedding dress. One group broke out into “God Save the Queen” when Her Majesty was shown arriving and there was laughter and cheers during The Most Reverend Michael Curry’s rousing message to the 600 guests.

Bishop Curry, 65, who heads the Episcopal Church in the United States, became the unexpected star of the ceremony with his casual manner and passionate message. “We’re going to sit down, we gotta get y’all married,” he said toward the end of his sermon, leaving some of the royals visibly squirming at the informality.

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Reverend Bishop Michael Curry, primate of the Episcopal Church, speaks during the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleOwen Humphreys/The Canadian Press

“It was lovely, really emotional,” said Victoria Dunn, who is from Newcastle and was among the 2,640 guests invited to watch the ceremony from inside the grounds of Windsor Castle. “It was lovely, too, because you heard the American accent.” Her friend, Hannah Underwood, was less impressed with the bishop. “It was a bit full on for me,” said Ms. Underwood, who is also from Newcastle and runs a charity called The Key. “It wasn’t really my cup of tea.”

Kensington Palace provided regular updates throughout the day, offering insights into everything from Ms. Markle’s dress, designed by Britain’s Clare Waight Keller, to the couple’s wedding rings -- Welsh gold for her and a platinum band for him.

There were also details about the lunchtime reception hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle, which included a performance by Sir Elton John and a menu laden with Scottish smoke salmon, Windsor lamb, pork belly with apple compote and crackling, champagne and pistachio macaroons and miniature rhubarb crumble tartlets.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St George's ChapelPOOL/Reuters

There were also a string of A-list celebrities on hand as invitees, including actor George Clooney, tennis star Serena Williams and soccer great David Beckham. “I saw George Clooney walk in, David Beckham, Victoria [Beckham], Elton John. I was literally like shouting ’George, wave!” Ms. Dunn said, recounting the stars who walked by her on their way into the chapel. “It was definitely memorable, a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.”

  • Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrive for the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, England, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Gareth Fuller/pool photo via AP)Gareth Fuller/The Associated Press

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For many people like Canadians Pat Steele and her husband, Charles, the wedding was something of a royal pilgrimage. The couple had come to London for the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 and felt compelled to be in Windsor on Prince Harry’s wedding day. The Steeles put up a royal flag at their home near Orangeville, Ont., every April 29, to mark the anniversary of Prince William and Kate’s wedding, and they’ll be doing the same thing now every May 19. “Our neighbours wonder about it,” said Mr. Steele.

Ms. Leblanc and Ms. Crocker came to celebrate Ms. Leblanc’s birthday on Saturday as well as to honour their mother, Julie, who died last summer and adored the royal family. “She knew everything about the royals. She had all the books, everything,” recalled Ms. Leblanc. “She would have loved this.” They were joined by two other friends on their first visit to the U.K. “Mom never made it here,” said Ms. Crocker. “We kind of did this for her.”

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Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, foreground left and Jessica Mulroney arrive with the bridesmaidsJane Barlow/The Associated Press

Not everyone was celebrating. A small group of homeless people and activists gathered in front of the castle Saturday morning handing out pamphlets that called on people to “join a lawful uprising” against poverty.

The head of Windsor’s council, Simon Dudley, caused a storm of controversy in January when he called on police to round up homeless people before the wedding.

Mr. Dudley later apologized, but the damage was done and his comments drew sharp criticism from charities fighting homelessness to Prime Minister Theresa May, whose riding includes part of Windsor. “This wedding is a disgraceful waste of money,” said Paul Sandison, who is from Rugby, east of Birmingham, and was living on the streets until three years ago.

Wearing a T-Shirt that said: “Their blood is on your hands”, Mr. Sandison added: “All these people who need help and aren’t getting it. It’s tax theft of the population.” His brother, Terry Sandison, nodded in agreement but quickly added: “It’s nothing personal against Prince Harry and Meghan. They seem like a nice couple.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed in a glittering display of royal pageantry that supporters hope will inject a measure of modern Hollywood glamour into the 1,000-year-old monarchy.


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