A million lined the route, and billions watched on television

With the crowds

In the event, you heard the action long before you saw it. For those with the best of views – the campers who reached the front of the half a million packing The Mall – the rough equation was seven hours’ wait for seven seconds of action. A glimpse, a wave, and a moment captured on the phones and cameras held aloft.

An estimated one million people lined the route, with two billion more in 180 countries watching the television coverage.

When the sun rose yesterday morning above The Mall, it resembled an early-morning scene from a music festival. Bleary eyed diehards emerged from their tents and headed for the Portaloos (still clean at that stage). The only rule: someone had to stay behind to guard the spot from the 6am johnny-come-latelys.

“I tell you what: if you’re camping out for a royal wedding, don’t get your sleeping bag from Argos,” said 22-year-old Seb Bradley as he packed up his tent. “I’m freezing.” Drunkards kicked out of pubs in the early hours were sobering up to find themselves in a sea of red and blue.

Shirley Johnson, 59, had flown in from Edmonton in Canada – a present from her husband. But his generosity did not extend to camping out in The Mall.Hehad left his wife, wrapped in a Wills and Kate flag to keep her warm, to save their spot directly behind the barriers. “He’s asleep in the hotel,” she said, before pausing and adding: “In a warm king-sized bed.”

Over at Westminster Abbey, the queuing had become fraught overnight. “At two this morning, it got very tense,” said Kathleen Trigg from Wimbledon who had been near the front for three days. “Some new comers turned up and started bickering and pushing and shoving to get to the front.”

Six turned to 7am and 8am, and more and more people flooded into the prime viewing locations. There were bemused children dragged from their beds on a parent’s whim and teenagers cracking open the gin at dawn. One grandmother from Canada, Jill Brierley, had won a trip to see the wedding and brought her 19-year-old granddaughter Shylock, who has just finished a course of chemotherapy.

As the royal cars made their way down The Mall on the way to the Abbey, huge cheers rippled its length, the loudest saved for Kate, necks craned in union for a first glimpse of “that dress”.

Jacqueline Davies, 85, sat in her wheelchair, covered in a blanket and wearing a rather fetching £2 tiara. Nearly 60 years ago, she camped out on The Mall for the coronation. She is the same age as the Queen, got married in the same year, and witnessed Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales’s wedding. She hopes that Kate and William will one day rival her favourite royal, Princess Anne (she works the hardest).

When the service began, live audio coverage was played from speakers along the route. With no sight of what was going on inside the Abbey, people simply stood listening, smiling, holding hands. “I will” drew a huge cheer, as did the pronouncement of man and wife.

Then it was over and the real business of the day began. People jostled for position, and tempers frayed, as the crowd waited for the carriage procession to make its way back to Buckingham Palace. An enterprising company was handing out cardboard periscopes to those at the back of the 10-deep crowd. They were better than nothing but gave a rather surreal and distorted picture of the pageantry going on behind the crash barriers.

First came the ceremonial horse guards and then, at a decent trot (slightly too decent a trot for the liking of some in the crowd), the 1902 State Landau carrying the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Some spectators had to leave disappointed. “All I saw was a couple of cars and a horse,” said a mournful Angela Cavill, who had been to the various weddings of Charles and Andrew.

Those with a ringside perch included 18-year-old Freddie Durham. “It was genuinely exciting – an extraordinary spectacle,” he said. “I saw it all. I felt like I was there as history was being made. I know it sounds lame. But it’s a royal wedding and I loved it.”

New friendships were struck. Billy, a homeless man in his fifties who normally sleeps in Paddington, met a Canadian tourist who took him to Harrods for lunch, buying him a bagel topped with Stilton, orange and figs. “It was lovely, but I only ate half of it,” he said. “I’m saving the other half for later. I like it when people come and talk to me. “My last giro was stolen by a friend on the street, and that really makes you lose hope in people, but today gives me hope. William will be a perfect king.”

More than 5,000 police officers were on duty. Fifty-seven arrests were made around Westminster, following pre-emptive raids against republican protesters the previous day in south and east London, which attracted criticism for stifling dissent. Six arrests were for drunk-and-disorderly behaviour and four for carrying offensive weapons. Police also arrested a 38-year-old man in Pall Mall on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. Thirteen people were still in custody last night.

Police used a “section 60” order to cordon off Trafalgar Square and allow officers to stop and search anyone without discretion, after a group of republican demonstrators were seen donning black masks in Soho. “We are all quite appalled and outraged because we did nothing wrong at all and were transported all that way with handcuffs,” said a young woman who had wanted to protest against the cost of the nuptials

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Assessor

£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

HR Advisor (Employee Relations) - Kentish Town, NW London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor (Employee Rela...

Derivatives Risk Commodities Business Analyst /Market Risk

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Derivatives Risk Commodities Business A...

Power & Gas Business Analyst / Subject Matter Expert - Contract

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Power & Gas Business Analyst/Subject Ma...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering