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It's Not Every Day You See the Queen Twice

It must have been nearly twenty years ago that my sister Carol and my Mother visited England while Matt was living there as a recent college graduate. I don't remember much about their trip except the part about how much my Mom loved Windsor Castle.

So, it only seemed fitting that on our fourth trip to Britain that we finally visit it for ourselves. Matt took Monday and Tuesday off, following our return from Edinburgh, York, and Melton Mowbray, to spend a little time post wedding with us. Monday evening he purchased the train tickets for the journey to Windsor with plans on meeting under the big clock at Waterloo Station.
Speaking of clocks, during our visit to the British Museum I spent longer than was probably wise studying the clock room--very fascinating. If I get to it I'll share some photos of early clocks which at the time were the latest and greatest "technology."

Once we gathered Matt mentioned that the Castle was closed for the day because the President of Ireland was visiting the Queen, a fact we'd heard on the news before leaving our hotel. Not the castle closing, just about the historic visit. If you're interested in learning more about this, click here. Whilst there you will see the live blogging from the BBC along with some photographs of the event.

Anyway, the closing was a disappointment, however, what happened next more than made up for it!! Exiting the train, we immediately noticed multiple police around the platforms. The station is quite small, so you really couldn't miss it. Nor could we miss what was happening as we exited the station--people were lining the streets for a parade starting within the hour!! Did I mention it was cold? I should have! Because we found a space directly against the barricades we stayed put, however, during that time both Matt and I wished we had more clothes on! Mr. Ready for Anything was just that.

Remember Nick from my last post? Well he was invaluable telling us all we needed to know about the parade from who was going to be in it, to when to get my camera ready! Furthermore I spoke with one of the very nice helpers who was handing out flags, both Irish and England, and learned the planning had been going on for months. Well, really--if you've ever watched the British in pomp and circumstance mode on television, you know it takes uber planning!

And so it began...
These fellows stood at attention on the side street. The flag at the bottom left is in Bruce's hand. Can you believe how close we were? I'm still amazed. The horses and uniforms were a sight to behold!
Before it all began, a fellow went by and I just knew he was the photographer for the British Monarchy.
Some lens he was sporting!

You cannot witness something so amazing without taking loads of photographs and you can bet that I did. I've done my best to pare it down, but gosh, then again, it is not everyday a girl sees the Queen! There were loads of regiments, this one was a band playing one! That drum was tremendous.
Here comes more..
and even more...
The blankets under the saddles, if you can call them that were embroidered so beautifully.
Not long after the parade began, a man directly behind me began talking to us. He explained various aspects of the uniforms which is why I'm showing the above. Apparently the feathers in both caps hold significance. After a bit, I asked him how he knew so much about the regiments and such and he said he was an Irish journalist. He looked the part--wearing a suit while most every other onlooker was dressed casually. He pointed out that Prince Charles and President Higgins were in a motorcade coming down from London and were to meet the Queen for the well, as we might say, "meet and greet" on the dais, just down the street to our left. It was here that all the horseman were standing after passing us.
Nick told me--"get your camera ready, she'll be in a red car." Yes sir, Mr. Policeman!!
And there she is! Prince Phillip may very well have been looking at us! Red car Nick? I call that burgandy. :)

Following a 21 gun salute (!!!), using canons at the castle no less, the motorcade came back by, this time using horse drawn carriages. Again, who can believe this just happened to us?
These guys led the way. Hey look, a little much appreciated sunshine! Earlier, during our wait we'd thought about changing sides of the street, but stayed put so when the sun did come out of the clouds we could warm up a bit. Here comes the lead guys...
Check out this carriage!
And here she is. You have to wonder just how many times during her 60 year reign she's done this same thing?
Too bad I didn't get a face shot! Matt, on the other hand did! What happened next was a source of much fun in our family. See Prince Charles and Camilla?
He's not waving is he? Well now he is...
You want to know who he is waving at? Well, it was NOT me. Bruce, attempting to take a photograph couldn't do it quick enough so instead, lowered the camera, noticed Prince Charles looking straight at him and he waved! Yep, he made eye contact with the future King of England. Of course, while this was going on I had no idea it was happening because I was taking photos as fast as I could. Fortunately I got the evidence on my memory card! This is the group who closed out the parade:

Although this was as close to the Castle as I got,
it really was a major thrill to see the Queen. Why? Well, if you think about it, she's been the Queen of England as long as I've been alive. That's pretty darn remarkable. Then too, in the future when folks visit various historic sights in England, many of which have a Royal connection, she will be immortalized, and we saw her from about six feet away. For crying out loud, I've yet to see an American President!

Across the street from this Castle entrance, there really are multiple ones, is what the sign called "The Long Walk", aptly named, don't you agree?
This article about Windsor Great Park tells me it is a 2.65 mile walk. Lovely, isn't it? We did not do the long walk, however, maybe next time. I don't know what Carol might think of our adventure in Windsor, but I'm pretty sure my Mom would have been tickled pink had this happened to her.
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