On 27 November 2017, Clarence House announced that Prince Harry would marry Meghan Markle. And, while the rest of the country looked forward to enjoying a Pimms or two, the announcement was serious business for the events industry.
Production wise, the expectations pre-event were vast, with more than 5,000 UK and international media and support staff accredited across Windsor for the day.
With heightened interest from across the pond, 46 US broadcast affiliates stepped into action and two purpose built international media compounds were constructed along the Long Walk and Home Park.
Julia White, visitor manager, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead told Access that many of the 220 volunteers called into action for the 2012 Olympic Games were once more deployed.
“They did a great job at the 2012 rowing event in Dorney Lake, and offered team support and stewarding services for the wedding, acting as the friendly face of security being easily identifiable in bright red attire.”
The grand efforts of the volunteers was in part down to their training in safety and counter terrorism. Sport Event Solutions had helped prepare a roster of suppliers including global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm Arcadis for the vast media infrastructure. Pinnacle Crew were also involved.
The day was particularly busy for Paul Roach, town manager, Windsor, whose responsibilities kicked in the moment the royal carriage hit the highway, overseeing the stewarding, and making sure the route is clear, with suitable barriers and screens for the public to view the special occasion.
He told Access: “Making sure the Long Walk was fit for the occasion was vital. In our largest viewing area we placed nine Fonix LED screens, which created a relaxed picnic atmosphere. The Long Walk featured around 60 caterers, numerous toiles, welfare facilities, and some 1,200 stewards, manning critical crossing points and routes.
“Windsor is a historic town with very narrow roads and streets, along which we positioned numerous media and camera points, all while maintaining business as usual in the town centre.”
He adds that the town’s Wi-Fi and mobile signal strength was boosted on the day to cater for the media and visitor demands.
The happy couple, meanwhile, invited 2,640 people into the grounds of Windsor Castle to watch their arrival. Wedding guests were also situated at the chapel to watch the carriage procession as it departed from the castle.
This group included 1,200 members of the public, nominated to attend by nine regional Lord Lieutenant offices. The couple asked that the people were chosen are from a broad range of backgrounds and ages, including young people who have served their communities. 200 people were selected from a range of charities and organisations which the couple have a close association with.
“With the eyes of the world on Windsor, this was an amazing chance to promote the destination for tourism and events. Our first meeting took place in December 2017, and back then there were very few details of the arrangements. We met on a monthly basis with stakeholders including the Royal Boroughs and councils and then more frequently closer to the event,” White adds.
While the world focused on that Givenchy dress and stars including Elton John, Access proudly nods to the organisations behind the pomp and circumstance.
Pictures by SWNS/Historic Royal Palaces