Even though our official invite hasn’t arrived yet (fingers crossed!), we’re already starting to plan a trip across the pond for the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
According to the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, during April 2011, the month when Kate Middleton and Prince William got hitched, an extra 350,000 tourists visited the United Kingdom compared to that same time in 2010. As for the big day, the Metropolitan Police estimated that one million people (locals and tourists) tried to catch a glimpse of the festivities along the parade route.
And while their nuptials probably won’t draw the same crowd sizes as Kate and Wills’ royal wedding, Harry and Meghan are expected to elicit a lot of lovey-dovey attention from those near and far when they say “I do” on May 19 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
To help you join in on the jolly-good time, we’ve worked up an actually executable sample itinerary for traveling to England during the week of the wedding — hat shopping not included. (And yes, parts of this can get pricey — what you save on a cheap flight, you can easily balance in lavish lodging packages — but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for royal watchers!)
1. Book your flight.
As of this writing, according to Google Flights, you can score a nonstop round-trip flight from New York’s JFK airport to London’s Gatwick airport via Norwegian Air for $435, departing May 17 and returning May 22. A similar flight from LAX airport to Gatwick costs $550. Another option to consider is WOW Air, which offers deals to Europe. But keep in mind that the flights almost always include a layover in Reykjavik since the airline is based in Iceland.
2. Choose your lodging.
While you could stay in Windsor, near the chapel, it will be tough to find a room. And TBH, you’ll probably want to shack up in London if you plan to do any sightseeing. Some of the city’s hotels are offering special wedding-related packages, such as the Hotel Café Royal, located in the heart of Piccadilly Circus. Its Empire Royal Wedding Package, which is available from April 1 to June 21, includes an overnight stay in the Empire Suite, a limo tour of London landmarks, a private tour of Windsor Castle, and a lot more V.I.P. extras. This royal treatment comes with a royal price tag though… $9,274.
For those who are inspired and want to pop the question while in the U.K., the Milestone Hotel, a boutique hotel overlooking Kensington Palace, offers its Royal Engagement Package. It comes complete with a horse-drawn carriage ride around London, chauffeured Bentley to a Hatton Gardens jewelry store, a private tour of Kensington Palace, and a photo session in front of the Palace for newly engaged couples. The package costs approximately $3,682, based on a two-night stay in a junior suite.
As for AirBnBs, pricing starts in the mid-$200-a-night range for a central London flat for two to three guests during the May 17 to 22 timeframe. In Windsor, prices reach as high as $4,380 a night (clutching our pearls!) for a five-bedroom home, with many listings boasting royal wedding proximity. Hotel rooms in Windsor reportedly sold out shortly after the announcement was made in December, but if you’re looking to prance around the English countryside, there are still rooms available within a 15-minute drive of the castle.
3. Watch the wedding!
If you’re staying in London, you could make the trip out to St. George’s Chapel, which is a 40-minute drive from the city. A mini Fiat costs about $30 a day to rent (but keep in mind traffic and road closures) or you can board the South Western Railway, which travels from London’s Waterloo station to Windsor and Eton Riverside station for about $15 each way. It’s too early to know what to expect once you arrive at the castle though. A limited number of tickets may be sold to the public for spectating on the grounds, as has been done with past weddings at Windsor Castle, but that plan has yet to be announced.
Unlike the easily accessible Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Kate got married, St. George’s Chapel is inside castle walls, which limits random passerby rubbernecking. Plus, the parade route is still TBD, which makes staking out your viewing spot now tricky.
So unless you’ve got seats next to the Queen, watching on the telly, as they say, might be your best bet and just as celebratory. Of course, most pubs will be broadcasting the event, plus the government is considering allowing pubs, clubs, bars, and other licensed drinking establishments to stay open and sell alcohol on the premises until 1 a.m. on May 18 and 19 (some typically close at 11 p.m.); hours were extended for Prince William and Kate’s wedding, so they most likely will be again.
In addition to traditional pubs, various viewing parties are set to pop up around Londontown like the Great British Tea Party, which will broadcast the royal wedding on a massive screen, while serving high tea and prosecco in the Royal Victoria Country Park in Southampton.
Regardless of where you stay or how you watch the royal lovebirds, it’s sure to be an historic — and totally unforgettable — event.