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Meet the Canadians lining up along Harry and Meghan's carriage route outside Windsor Castle

Canadians have been staking out the carriage route outside Windsor Castle for days. They've been staying warm with red mittens and HBC blankets.

Newsletter: Your invitation to royal wedding news ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials

Angela Hart, left, and mother Janice Cox, right, have been staking out their spot on the carriage route since Thursday. They are both from Ontario. (Janet Davison/CBC)

Welcome to The Royal Fascinator, your invitation to royal wedding news and analysis ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials on May 19.


A Canadian adventure in Windsor

When the carriage carrying Prince Harry and Meghan makes its first big turn onto the streets of Windsor after their wedding today, Janice Cox and her family will have a prime view. And if Harry and Meghan look their way, they'll see the large maple leaf flag draped in front of the Ontario family that did everything they possibly could to stake their place across the road from Windsor Castle.

Cox, 69, of Burlington, Ont., is excited to hear the horses' hooves, watch the carriage come into view and "the thought of seeing them turn the corner."

She and her family — daughter Angela Hart, her husband Patrick Hart and their daughters Camille, 19, and Charlotte, 18, of Brantford, Ont. — planned their trip for six months, from the moment Harry and Meghan's engagement was announced. They have been staking out their spot on the carriage route since Thursday.

Sure, it was a bit chilly overnight. But the family is prepared, in a very Canadian way — they've got Hudson's Bay blankets, red mitts and, for their perches, red Canadian Tire sports chairs. Turns out "they're actually very comfortable," Cox says, and the "best $22" she's spent.

The Hart family are in good spirits after camping out on the carriage route since Thursday. They've been huddling under Hudson's Bay Company blankets in Canadian Tire chairs. (Janet Davison/CBC)

They've found the kindness of strangers who offer them tea or a friendly wave, and perhaps some of the "fun and joy" Meghan and Harry have said they hope will surround their wedding.

Charlotte Hart's family has been planning their trip to the United Kingdom to be part of the wedding celebration for six months, ever since they learned of Harry and Meghan's engagement. (Janet Davison/CBC)

"We're Canadian," Charlotte said. "We're fine."

Cox says she's in Windsor to support the wedding and the fairy tale that surrounds it. She knows not all such fairy tales last, particularly the one that so many saw in the marriage of Harry's parents, Prince Charles and Diana. "We all have a soft spot for Harry and [his brother] William," she says. "They're almost part of everyone's family in a small way."


In the media spotlight

When you've staked out a prime spot on the wedding procession route through Windsor, you become a media magnet. By Friday morning, Ivanka Siolkowsky had done 43 interviews. "You're 44," the Toronto woman said.

Siolkowsky remembers the day Diana died, in 1997, and "how awful it felt" watching William and Harry and their mourning in the public eye.

Ivanka Siolkowsky, a professional organizer from Toronto, has given dozens of interviews while staking out the wedding procession route in Windsor. (Janet Davison/CBC)

"When I had the chance to witness the happiest day through my own eyes, I wanted to jump at the chance," she said.

Siolkowsky, who works as a professional organizer, finds the younger generation of royals relatable. She's 35, the "same as Will," and has been watching them since she was young. They are part of a long tradition, but "they have fun. They're not stuffy. They're adapting to societal changes," she said.

In particular, Siolkowsky likes their mental health initiatives. But for today, she's be watching for something else: "just seeing them with that smile of 'we've done it' … to finally see them live that moment of joy."


Charles steps in

After it turned out Meghan's father wouldn't be walking her down the aisle, the big question became who would step in

Prince Charles, seen May 10 in Athens, will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle in her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)

What about her mother, Doria Ragland? Or maybe Harry's brother, William?

Kensington Palace announced Friday that it will be Harry's father, Prince Charles. He says he's pleased to welcome Meghan into the family "in this way."


Where I'll be

It's quite the media whirlwind in Windsor. And I know I'm part of that -- but I was also jostled in the head — quite gently — by a boom mike on Friday.

Janet Davison, author of CBC's Royal Fascinator, has visited Windsor Castle several times, most recently three weeks ago as a tourist. (Janet Davison/CBC)

There are a lot of us here.According to ITV, more than 5,000 media and support staff are accredited to cover the wedding.

Today, I'll be with other members of the international media inside the castle walls, where I'll be contributing to our live blog. I've toured the castle in the past several times — most recently as a tourist, about three weeks ago. It will be interesting to see what has changed since then.

It's an early start for all us covering the day for CBC today — those of us staying or living in London are leaving in a van at 4:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m. ET Friday) to make sure we can get in place in time.

Please send your ideas, questions, royal tips or memories — wedding or otherwise — and any comments on the newsletter to royalwedding@cbc.ca.

The final edition of the Royal Fascinator will be issued Sunday, wrapping up final thoughts on the wedding.

About the Author

Janet Davison is a CBC senior writer and editor based in Toronto.