If you haven’t somehow managed to blag an invitation to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Windsor Castle wedding (the result of some cruel administrative error, we can only assume) then surely the next best way to spend May 19th is by watching the ceremony unfold at an outdoor screening in the gardens of Kensington Palace, just around the corner from the couple’s home at Nottingham Cottage?
Promising a truly special way to mark the royal wedding, Historic Royal Palaces have teamed up with the Luna Cinema (who have previously hosted outdoor cinema events at iconic landmarks across the country, from Westminster Abbey and Hampton Court Palace to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and York Minster) for a live screening of the ceremony, set against the backdrop of Kensington Palace. It’ll take place on the Orangery lawn, with guests encouraged to either bring their own picnic (including something with which to toast the happy couple, of course) or to opt for food and drink available from a range of stalls on the palace lawns.
While the palace and its grounds are open to visitors, Kensington Palace is also home to a number of members of the royal family: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle currently reside at Nottingham Cottage, just around the corner from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, who live at Apartment 1A in the main palace complex. They've recently been joined by Princess Eugenie and her fiancé Jack Brooksbank, who have just moved into Ivy Cottage.
So, how does one snag a spot on the guest list for this regal occasion? 1,000 tickets will be available through a public ballot system on the Historic Royal Palaces website, which opened yesterday and will close at midnight on May 6th. Lucky applicants will receive an email confirming their spot during the week of May 7th; should you be successful, your tickets will be free, aside from a £2.50 booking fee which includes a charitable donation.
And if you don't succeed? Fear not: the wedding will be broadcast live on the BBC, ITV and Sky News on the day, meaning that hosting your own viewing party should be a piece of (lemon and elderflower) cake, while venues across the country are putting on special wedding events and screenings, too...
Read on for more brilliant ways to get into the royal wedding spirit on May 19th...
The Royal Horseguards Hotel
Celebrate Harry and Meghan's transatlantic royal romance with an American twist on a British classic. The Royal Horseguards Hotel's special Royal Wedding afternoon tea, available throughout May, takes inspiration from both sides of the pond: red velvet cupcakes, mini pecan pies and other star-spangled sweets sit on the menu alongside more traditional fare like finger sandwiches and scones. On the big day itself, the Hotel will be screening the Windsor nuptials as part of their Royal Wedding Experience package, £59.90 per person, featuring the tea, music from a harpist and Taittinger champagne to raise a toast in style (it's what Harry would want, after all…)
How's this for the ultimate royal wedding viewing experience? ONE Marylebone will be screening the main event against the atmospheric backdrop of its Grade II-listed church from noon, with a line-up of themed entertainments that includes cake decorating, traditional British games and Bloody Mary masterclasses. As the night sets in, it's time for round two: an evening do in the venue's Grand Hall, with appearances from Ed Sheeran and Elton John tributes, American treats and plenty of champagne. Tickets for the daytime festival cost £25, with the evening event priced at £30.
Good news for Harrys, Meghans, Henrys, Megs and those with a spare wedding dress lying around. Dreamland Margate are offering free entry to their royal wedding street party for people who share a name with one half of the happy couple (don't worry, they've opened it up to multiple spelling permutations, too) – and for those wearing a wedding dress. Both the ceremony and the FA Cup final will be screened live at the amusement park, which will be decked out in bunting for the occasion, with plenty of other photo (read: Instagram) opportunities, including an inflatable church complete with its own vicar.
The Savoy isn't just one of the capital's most iconic venues: a long-time favourite with the Windsors, the hotel is also heavily steeped in royal history (it's the first place that the then-Princess Elizabeth was spotted with her future husband, Prince Philip, for one). In anticipation of Harry and Meghan's big day, the Strand landmark will launch a special afternoon tea on May 1st with a menu inspired by royal weddings past and present, which starts at £68 per person. Historically, the Savoy's American Bar has made a new cocktail to mark each royal wedding: this time, they've created 'The Royal Welcome,' a blend of Bombay Sapphire, Champagne syrup, English sparkling wine, yuzu and peychauds bitter.
Galvin at Windows
Up on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton, Michelin-starred restaurant Galvin at Windows boasts unrivalled views of Buckingham Palace. Though its royal inhabitants will be out of town for Harry's nuptials (they'll be 22 miles away at Windsor Castle, to be precise), the Palace will certainly make a regal backdrop for a special three course wedding lunch, priced at £50 per person and kicking off with an English sparkling wine reception (our kind of patriotic gesture).
The Book Club
Shoreditch's The Book Club are taking a typically idiosyncratic approach to the wedding of the year, hosting a celebratory brunch that promises Pimms, prosecco, live music, bingo and Spice Girl drag queens, as well as some classic British party games and pop-up shops. They've also dreamed up a menu of bespoke, royal-themed cocktails to enjoy while you inevitably shout over the live stream from Windsor, and it's a BYOB affair (that's bring your own bunting…) Tickets cost just £5 for entry, with doors open from 10am until 5pm.
Fairmont St Andrews
Here's a piece of royal trivia for you: the Fairmont St Andrews hosted the student fashion show where Kate Middleton (wearing a see-through dress, no less) is said to have first caught Prince William's eye. To mark the marriage of Wills' little brother, the hotel is screening all the happenings from Windsor in its Atrium Lounge, and will be laying on a wedding-themed afternoon tea spread. And for the centerpiece? A lemon and elderflower cake a la Harry and Meg, which guests will be able to take home in miniature form as a special momento.
Hoxton Square Bar
As the formalities are wrapped up and Harry and Meghan's select group of revelers heads from Windsor Castle to Frogmore House for the after-party, make a move to Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. The East London space will host a special royal edition of their regular night Throwback; one that brings together all the good bits of a wedding disco. Sophie Lloyd will be spinning funk, soul, disco and R&B into the early hours, while the photo booth filled with cardboard cutout royals plus bridal fancy dress and glitter art will guarantee you a good few months of Instagram content, at least.
Catch all the pomp and circumstance of the Windsor wedding ceremony with a special screening at ME London's Radio Rooftop, where views of some of London's most iconic landmarks will make an appropriately regal backdrop. A specially curated menu will, in a nod to Harry and Meghan's respective homes, feature dishes from both sides of the Atlantic (think traditional cod and chips or pancake stacks), and guests will receive a complimentary glass of Chapel Down sparkling wine, from the Kent vineyard which the royal couple have reportedly chosen for their celebrations (as did William and Kate in 2011).