WINDSOR, May 16 — Under the shadow of Windsor Castle, Bianca Louzado picked out a purple scarf adorned with pictures of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and two royal wedding baseball caps.
“We’re huge fans!” said the Indian make-up artist, as she passed one of the hats to her 10-year-old son.
She has flown over from Mumbai with her family to watch Harry and US actress Markle wed on Saturday, and has come to the castle to pick up some souvenirs ahead of time.
“My parents came for Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981, I was only two, and we followed them ever since,” said her husband Alan.
“We thought — what better time to come than for this wedding?”
Across the road, Carole Ferguson, a 63-year-old executive assistant from California, soaks up the sun outside a cafe as she plans how to get the best view when the newlyweds tour Windsor in their carriage after the wedding.
More than 100,000 people are expected for the event, and even though she is staying in town — changing hotels several times to get the best rates — Ferguson and her partner Carl are preparing for an early start.
“This is going to be the last royal wedding for a while so we’ve got to do it,” she said.
She loves the pageantry and history of the British monarchy, but “I also love Harry, and he seems very happy — and Meghan seems a lovely girl.”
Harry is one of the most popular royals, his youthful indiscretions and tragic loss of his mother Diana helping endear himself to many fans.
“I think Harry needs a bit of luck in his life,” said Matty De Bruyn, a 68-year-old from Cape Town in South Africa.
She is enjoying the build-up atmosphere but will avoid Windsor on the day of the wedding, saying: “I think it will be a madhouse.”
Windsor is a major tourist draw all year around, and many of those visiting this week planned their trips months before the wedding was announced.
“It doesn’t interest me, we’re just here on holiday,” said Martin Kirchner, a 48-year-old engineer from Germany.
“But it’s interesting to see all the TV teams,” he said, watching with bemusement as camera crews took turns to interview a woman wearing a fake purple and gold crown.
Many locals also noted the transformation of their town, as US network anchors present to camera on every pavement, while heavily armed police officers walk the streets.
“There’s no litter, which is nice,” said Steve Bradley, 59.
He has some Brazilian friends to stay for the wedding, including 33-year-old Consuelo Almeida, who is very excited.
“It’s different for us, we don’t have a queen or anything like that. And Meghan is a real person — it gives a sense that it could be anybody,” she said.
“I was hoping to see them waving on the balcony, but I only found out yesterday that there’s no balcony!
“But that’s OK. And of course I want to see the dress.”
‘You go girl’
While Windsor is abuzz, tourists in London have also been seeking ways to celebrate the royal romance.
Eric Marquez, 40, from Ohio, is one of several passengers on a bus tour offering a cream tea while they drive past key sights including Harry’s home at Kensington Palace.
“Since I was 11-years-old I have weirdly been the American boy who is super fascinated by royalty,” he said.
“It’s the tradition... and of course glitter, jewels, as a gay man is super exciting too.”
Fellow passenger Christiane Jennings, who has taken the tour as part of a 40th-birthday celebration with her daughter, is full of praise for Markle.
“I love her, and I’m so proud of her. Biracial, divorced, yes! You go girl!” she said, eating a tiny cupcake adorned with a plastic gold tiara. — AFP