Royal wedding: New Yorkers brave rain and early start as America celebrates Harry and Meghan's marriage

US takes in new special relationship in latest example of a transatlantic fascination with the Windsors

Chris Stevenson
New York
Saturday 19 May 2018 20:17
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Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan's ceremony in 90 seconds

The clouds hung low over the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan, the constant rain in stark contrast to the bright sunshine greeting Prince Harry and Meghan Markle before their wedding in Windsor.

But that didn't stop New Yorkers from filling out a number of bars at 6.30am to take in the spectacle on television – a mark of the American fascination with Britain’s royal family.

At the Dog and Bone bar on 25th Street, the flatscreen televisions shone like a beacon against the grey sky, bringing in wedding watchers in fascinators and rain coats.

Amber Rodriguez, 42, sat at the bar. She lives a few streets away and wanted to take in a “cultural moment” and particularly Ms Markle.

“I would have come anyway,” Ms Rodriguez said, talking about a love for British television and a visit to the UK last year, but Ms Markle was “wonderful” and a “breath of fresh air in the monarchy”.

TV series like The Crown have no doubt had an impact on many, the series having built up a healthy US audience. But America has long had a fascination with dynasties, including political stalwarts the Kennedy family and the Bush family.

On a street close to the bar, Steve Wilkins, 45, said that the royal family provide “something different” for Americans “given their history”.

While there is a certain irony to a country that once gained independence from Britain raptly following such events, the story from Ms Markle has certainly captured the imaginations of many who are willing to revel in the pomp and circumstance of the royal family.

Such devotion was not a surprise to Scott Robertson, who owns the Dog and Bone bar. “We started receiving phone calls six months ago,” said Mr Robertson – who had dressed the bar’s mascot, Winston the English bulldog, in a mini tuxedo for the occasion.

The Churchill Tavern, a nearby pub also owned by Mr Robertson, was packed with wedding watchers taking in the ceremony with coffees, juices – or for those in the mood, beers and cocktails.

Royal wedding: Fans explain why they've come to Windsor to see Harry and Meghan marry

During the ceremony at the Dog and Bone there were cheers for famous faces popping up on camera, from David Beckham to Amal and George Clooney, and laughter at the reactions in the pews to the address given by Bishop Michael Curry. The rendition of "God Save the Queen" even brought applause from those gathered in the bar.

Every so often Ms Rodriguez, who works in fashion, would snap a picture of the screen, in order for her to create an gallery of the best hats and fascinators to share on her Instagram feed later.

American media went to great lengths to cater to this audience, which is not surprising given that, Wallis Simpson aside, this is likely the closest an American has got to the British royal family since the Boston Tea Party. Television and news networks NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, TLC, HBO, Hallmark, and E! all offered a live stream with commentary. PBS were using coverage from the BBC, in addition to the UK broadcaster showing it on BBC America.

Among the 5,000 members of the international media covering the wedding, NBC set up five vantage points along the procession route for the newlyweds, and most major US television networks planned hours-long extended editions of flagship programmes, including staples like Good Morning America. Up to 23 million Americans watched the coverage of the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 – with network bosses likely hoping for similar figures.

Meanwhile, across the country, events and viewing parties were taking place in hotels, pubs and homes everywhere from Los Angeles – where residents got up at 3am – to towns in Florida and the Rocky Mountains.

“The phone hasn’t stopped,” Mr Robertson said of the rush for table reservations at his two establishments. “In the last two weeks, it has been constant.”

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