Guests, tourists and mini-breakers, you are cordially invited to Windsor for the wedding of the year. Here's what to know
Windsor will have the eyes of the world watching next weekend when the Royal wedding rolls into town. Here’s everything you need to know about the Berkshire market town, including where to shop for the best Meghan and Harry commemorative mug and whether or not Prince George is tall enough to ride the Dragon’s Apprentice mini rollercoaster at Legoland on the way home.
On Saturday 19th May, thousands of people are expected to gather from all over the country to line the procession route and catch a glimpse of the Royal couple as they get married at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. So much so that the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has released a handy guide to make the trip as smooth as possible. We also did a recce of the town, so that you can make the most of your time there.
Where to stand for the Royal Wedding?
Your best bet is to pitch up on The Long Walk to catch a glimpse of the castle and the bridal procession, or if that’s too busy, head for Kings Road. There will be plenty of refreshments stalls and toilets along the route, though don’t expect to bump into Charles and Camilla in the queue for the portaloos – official Royal wedding guests will have been holed up in the chapel since 10am, despite the ceremony not kicking off until midday. We sincerely hope that there are some posh portaloos (Mobile Thrones, perhaps) inside the grounds, otherwise that is an exceptionally long time for one to cross one’s legs, especially if Meghan goes all out bride on us and arrives half an hour late.
How to get to the Royal wedding
Firstly, set your alarm clock for 4am. Seriously. Train companies have issued travel warnings urging wedding revelers to set off early to avoid disappointment. Roads in Windsor will be closed from 10pm on Friday 18 May but Windsor Racecourse is providing a fun-times ‘park and float’ car park so you can ditch the wheels and cruise into town on a return riverboat (£10), presumably so that you can make like the Queen on her Diamond jubilee when she took a flotilla along the Thames. Royal wave optional.
Where to stay in Windsor
If you manage to find a hotel in Windsor that still has availability we’ll eat our elaborate feathered fascinator. That said, if you’re planning a trip to Windsor at any other time, check yourself in to the historic Castle Hotel Windsor, MGallery by Sofitel. A chic boutique hotel perfectly positioned within a cobblestone’s throw to Windsor Castle, Meghan’s Stateside rellies and even some of Prince Harry’s Eton chums could do far worse than book a superior deluxe suite (rates start from £108) at the Castle Hotel. Opposite Sir Christopher Wren’s Windsor Guildhall, the hotel dates back to 1528 when, known then as the Mermaid Inn, it was a humble brewery. Later, in the 1700s, the innkeeper Richard Martin was awarded the first of the hotel’s eight Royal Warrants – to provide horses and carriage for the royal household – and the hotel went on to become the grandest in Windsor. Naturally, today they will be celebrating the Royal wedding with a bespoke cocktail named A Ring For Her Finger (Stiggins’ Pineapple Rum Aperol and Scottish Ginger Cider, £10, in case you’re wondering).
The suite interiors are all muted sandy and grey tones, with high ceilings, huge Georgian sash windows and gigantic king-sized beds (appropriate, no?) with Egyptian cotton sheets to sink in to. Downstairs, in the lounges and restaurant, much of the original Grade II listed detail remains – the floors are delightfully wonky – but the décor has a clean, contemporary feel.
The in-house Marco Pierre White Restaurant is just the spot for a Chateaubriand and a full-bodied red from the extensive list. But don’t over-indulge, the buffet breakfast next morning is one of the best (and largest) in town. Who knows? You might even bump into a hungover wedding guest, perhaps David Beckham or one of Harry’s chums from the Mahiki days, tie around head Rambo-style, the morning after the night before.
What to do in Windsor
If you didn’t get a Royal wedding invite or, y’know, it’s just not your scene, head for The Three Tuns on Market Street, a traditional boozer for a pint of London Pride. They have renamed the pub The Prince Harry in honour of the Royal wedding and you can expect street party-style celebrations. You know that scene in Titanic where, sick of mingling with the aristocracy, Rose heads down to steerage for a proper Irish knees up and it looks way more fun than the posh party? That’s the laidback vibe of this place, so expect cheery chat with locals and a decent jukebox.
Don’t leave town without a stop off for tea and cake at Lillibet’s, The Great British Café – named so because of the Queen’s nickname. And on such a truly British occasion, it would be rude not to, frankly. Opposite, swing by Windsor Gifts and Souvenirs for a Meghan and Harry 2018 commemorative mug, which hopefully you’ll be able to flog on EBay in thirty years’ time for double the price. #winning.
And once the party is over and the prospect of a long car journey home with grumpy kids in the back has you reaching for the Alka Seltzer, do yourself a favour and book a family ticket to LEGOLAND Windsor (tickets from £32 on selected dates). We’re pretty sure that’s what Kate and William will be doing to avoid George and Charlotte’s endless choruses of ‘are we there yet?’ There’s a brand new, 60,000-piece pop-up Royal Wedding scene in Miniland (complete with ginger groom) that took 752 hours to build. There’s also a brand new LEGO Ninjago 4D movie – Master of the 4th Dimension – and the LEGO Reef, a digital aquarium.
So don’t forget to pack your brolly, Union Jack flags and a hip flask of something celebratory for the big day. We’ll see you by the sidelines.