Do or Di: My pilgrimage to Harry's wedding
Having gone to London for William's wedding, Arlene Prinsloo's 'obsession' with royalty is taking her back for Harry's
Some go to Mecca, others go to the Vatican City. But for 52-year-old Arlene Prinsloo from Cape Town, her “pilgrimage” will take her to the royal wedding in Windsor, London.
Prinsloo’s fascination with the royal family wasn’t an instant love affair but happened in three stages. At five years old she watched the 1971 film Mary, Queen of Scots and was intrigued by the queen’s story.
Later, her mom relayed a story of how thousands, including herself, lined the streets of Cape Town to welcome King George and Queen Elizabeth, who was 21 at the time.
But it is only when Diana, Princess of Wales, entered the scene, that the fascination with the royals turned into a lifelong affair.So today, Prinsloo, web editor at Netwerk24, leaves for London to attend the royal wedding of the late Diana’s son Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. With no invite or accreditation, she will join thousands on the Long Walk, the 4.24km stretch from Snow Hill to the gates of Windsor Castle.
The newlyweds will make their way along the Long Walk in a carriage, giving spectators a glimpse of them on their way to Windsor Castle. The procession is expected to take 25 minutes.
For Prinsloo, who will start her trek to Windsor at 2am, those 25 minutes will be worth it.“It’s Diana, Princess of Wales son’s wedding; people of my age have this motherly feeling for the boys. It sounds silly, but it’s a positive experience. It’s like going to a big concert like Sting and that adrenaline rush you get,” she said.
Having already forked out between R20,000 and R25,000 for the trip – including flights, visa and pocket money – Prinsloo said the decision was somewhat “impulsive”, unlike her decision to attend Prince William and Catharine Middleton’s wedding.
“When William got married it was spectacular. This one is more for the street party. When Harry announced his engagement I wasn’t excited. This trip was impulsive, unlike with William when I knew immediately that I wanted to go.”This time, she will be staying an hour outside Windsor with a friend. They will leave at 2am to park in a designated parking area that is a 20-minute walk from the Long Walk. She hopes to make it past the security checkpoint by 6am to secure a good spot along the Long Walk, closest to Windsor Castle.
“Some people call it an obsession, I call it a healthy obsession,” Prinsloo says.“I don’t read every book or watch every movie about the royal family, and I don’t believe everything I read about them. But it’s my passion in life, the royals. People are looking for good news. In a world of such ugliness there’s nothing like a fairytale to brighten up this ugly world we live in.”
Perhaps it’s her love for Diana, which started when Prinsloo was a teenager, who inspired her belief in fairytales. Since then she’s collected hundreds of books on the princess and even went to London for the build-up to the funeral.
“I have a collection of books on Diana – that’s actually scary because I have quite a lot. I’ve never counted, I’m too scared. If I had to guess I’d say I have around 200 to 300 books just on Diana,” Prinsloo said.This trip won’t just be about the royal wedding, since Prinsloo will also go to Kensington Palace, she explains.
“This trip is also about palaces, castles and dead people ... I’m going to Kensington Palace for the Diana fashion exhibition of her clothes and I’m going to watch her son get married. In a way this is my Diana pilgrimage”, she said.
The royal wedding takes place on Saturday, May 19 in St George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry was christened. The wedding service begins at noon and the couple will be married by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
At 1pm Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will embark on the carriage procession through the town along the Long Walk before returning to Windsor Castle.
For those not making the trip to London, all is not lost. Self-confessed royalists like Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi from Johannesburg will be attending a private screening with friends and has already bought a metallic-blue, knee-length satin dress for the soiree, which is a themed occasion with everyone required to wear a “dress with a hat”, as if they were guests at the actual wedding.“I love weddings, everybody does, even people who don’t believe in marriage. We’re happy for Meghan and Harry has always been the one with the street cred. Then it’s just nice to get caught up in the ridiculousness of it with the rest of the world,” said Boshomane Tsotetsi.
There are also a number of events planned in Joburg, and one in Durban:
• The Rand Club will be hosting a high tea on Saturday in celebration of the wedding. It will be served at noon and the service will be screened in Main Ballroom. The club was used twice as an official residence by members of the British royal family on official visits to South Africa in the 1920s and 1930s.
When: Saturday, 19 May 2018 at 10:30am
Where: Rand Club, 33 Loveday Street, 2000 Johannesburg.
R280 per person, book here firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Royal Wedding Street Party at 1Fox. The wedding will be shown live on a big screen, but there will also be a kids’ entertainment area, an after party with live music, a beer garden, high tea, and much more.
Where: 1 Fox Market, Shed 1 Fox Street, Ferreiras Dorp, Johannesburg.
Tickets cost R65 per person at www.quicket.co.za or R80 at the door (under-12s free).
3. The Joburg Heritage Foundation is hosting a talk and tea at the home of Sir Thomas Cullinan, titled the Royal wedding tea: A celebration of the British monarchy in Joburg.
Park : The View, 23 Ridge Road, Parktown Time : 10.30am (Note earlier starting time) Cost: R150 for members and R220 for non-members, which includes tea and scones.
4. The Oyster Box in Umhlanga, Durban will host a Royal Wedding Brunch on Saturday, but tickets are already sold out.