She was there. All pink and gold and glittery.

Month: July, 2012

Wake up every morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen.

Lots of picture and words in this one.  I have a lot of information to cram into one post.

As my time in London begins its descent into a close (unbelievable), I have strengthened my efforts to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.  Even if that effort means standing in the pouring rain in Leicester Square for 6 hours to be a part of the most anticipated movie premiere of the year.

The European premiere of The Dark Knight Rises was held in Leicester Square and the full principle cast was set to attend.  I arrived in the square at about 11 and joined the queue, which turned out to be for the garden- prime viewing spot for those hoping to catch a glimpse of some celebrities.  I didn’t care if I had the best spot in the house, I just wanted a spot but I was told the line was fot TDKR, so I joined.  After wasting two hours in line, we were then told we would not be making it into the garden and that we should disperse to other areas throughout the square.  As I searched for a new area, I began to get a little disappointed- while I waited in line, crowds filled out the remaining areas.  However, I soldiered on and ended up second row at the end of the red carpet.  There were several times throughout the day I felt like calling it a day and going home.  I didn’t NEED to see the stars and it was raining and I was hungry and my back was begging me to sit down.  The hardest part is the last hour and at 4:00pm I almost walked away.  But I would have kicked myself if I had gotten that close only to give up, so I stuck it out and at 5:30 the stars began to arrive.

It took quite awhile for the celebrities to make their way down to us.  The carpet was extremely long and the cast had to make their way through the press, photo calls and autographs.  But finally, they had arrived.  In addition to the main players, I had the fortune of seeing a multitude of other big stars, many of whom are very famous in Britain.

Because the premiere was so big, it was split between two theatres.  This is the Empire Theatre.  I was situated in front of neighbouring theatre, the ODEON.

“A fire will rise” is the film’s tagline.

The arrival of this vehicle from the film kicked off the red carpet events

Matthew Lewis.  Many of you will know him as Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter franchise.

Cillian Murphy, star of The Dark Knight Rises

Morgan Freeman, star of TDKR

I feel that I should mention here that most of the stars of the Dark Knight did not stop to sign autographs where I was standing.  I was right outside the theatre so by the time they got to where I was, there we ready to get inside.  Therefore, many of the pictures are a bit blurry.

Marion Cotillard, star of TDKR

Hans Zimmer, the film’s composer 

The only photo I managed to get of Batman himself, Christian Bale.  When he come up the carpet, he headed towards the other theatre so I was unable to snap a good picture of him.

Tom Hardy, the film’s villain

Marion Cotillard making her way down the carpet

Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The only cast member to stop over to sign autographs.  

I’d be lying if I said wanting to see him wasn’t my main motivation for countless hours of standing in a crowded spot surrounded by people I don’t know.

After Joseph Gordon-Levitt made his way into the theatre, I hastily made my own exit.  I didn’t stick around to see Anne Hathaway- I’ve never been a huge fan of hers so I wasn’t bothered to wait around for her to make her way to the end of the carpet.  So, I made my way home to video chat with my mom to tell her all about the day’s adventures and while catching up on Twitter during our conversation I saw news that, despite my incredibly good fortune (which I am not taking for granted here, I must preface this by saying), was enough to make me want to go a little bit insane.  Right there spelled out in front of me was the news that Prince Harry attended The Dark Knight Rises premiere.  However, he obviously wasn’t aware that I was in Leicester Square because he was on the other side of the Thames River at the BFI Imax theatre in Waterloo.  The conversation with my mom was put on the back burner because I could not allow myself to get over the fact that I’d missed my prince.  But because it’s too good to ignore, I’ll share a picture of him from that premiere so you can see what I was missing and hopefully understand my devastation.

This is NOT my picture.  As much as I wish it was, because that would have meant that I was there.  I’m sharing it because he’s too beautiful to keep to myself even though I’d love for that to be the case.

This man in a suit is God’s gift to me.

The end of last night’s adventure brings me to today.  Because if I can’t see Prince Harry, I’ll take his sister-in-law.  The Duchess was scheduled to make a solo appearance at the opening of ‘The Road to Olympics’ exhibition at The National Portrait gallery.  It was hardly publicised but I was not expecting that when I turned up, I’d be the only patron with a bunch of press photographers.  I asked a police officer if it was okay that the public wait for her and he said it was fine and that I could stand anywhere.  Success.  I picked a spot close to the door and waited.  And that’s when the homeless man struck up a conversation.  Although he was very lovely and wanted to know if I like “Kate Middlespoon”, I didn’t want to spend the whole time making small talk about why the Queen should buy his magazine.  So at a break in the conversation I nonchalantly moved to the opposite side of the door, out of his view.

It was about 7:45 am by this point and I had NO idea what time Kate would be arriving.  The news on the event was all very vague and for good reason.  As I was waiting, two police officers came over to set up their post.  I eventually worked up the nerve to ask them if they knew what time Kate would be arriving and from then the three of us struck up a conversation to pass the time.  Several onlookers stopped the officers to ask them what was going on and asked why there were so many photographers.  They answered with, “Someone is coming to open the new gallery.”  I inquired about their ability to pass on information and one of the officers said, “If someone is lucky enough to see the information on Twitter, I will help her out.  But if not, I won’t be the reason for hundreds of people gathering to see Kate.”

As the road shut down to make way for her motorcade, the public became even more curious and a crowd gathered.  So when their sergeant alerted them that Kate would be arriving in two minutes, they pushed everyone back behind a yellow line marked on the pavement- a view obstructed by a lamppost and a traffic light.

Because our conversation from earlier was focused on what I’ve been doing since I arrived in England, I told the officers I’m just trying to see as much in London as I can before I return home and I filled them in on my love for the British Royal Family.  As a result, when the public got pushed back, my newfound officer friends came over to me and said, “Stick right behind us and you’ll get a great view of her.  You’ll never get this close again.”  As a result of their kindness and willingness to play for my side, I give you the Duchess:


If you find someone you love in your life, then hang on to that love- Princess Diana

I have had some incredible luck throughout the past month regarding my ability to run into some very influential individuals, something I will get to at the end of this.

Yesterday, Jordan and I went to Althorp, the Spencer family estate where Princess Diana spent her childhood.   The estate is only open from the day she was born (July 1) to the day she died (August 31).  This estate has been on my to-do list since I got to England, especially having missed a visit by just one week when I arrived.  I couldn’t put off a visit any longer, so we set out on a train to Northampton.

This visit has been the highlight of my time here so far.  The house was absolutely gorgeous, although it paled in comparison to the Diana exhibit that was featured.  I could have spent hours just walking through the exhibit over and over again.  Unfortunately, though, photographs were not allowed.  The first room focused on her childhood.  I saw handwritten letters that Diana had written to her parents, her report cards, ballet shoes and school uniform.  There was also a bible that her godmother had passed along, with a personal note to Diana on the cover page.  The next room was all about the royal wedding.  I walked in only to be greeted by her wedding dress, which shared a showcase with the box that housed pieces of the wedding cake, a card that Charles had written to Diana featuring one of his own watercolour works and bridesmaid dresses.

There was a room devoted to her charity work- Diana’s handwritten letters were once again on display, this time from years later, addressed to the heads of various organisations for which she was patron.  Then came the rooms dedicated to her death.  A projector flashed images of the sea of flowers placed outside Kensington Palace following the news.  The was a case that was home to the handwritten revisions of Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’, sharing a space with the handwritten draft of Earl Spencer’s eulogy.  After walking through a room lined with some of Diana’s most popular (and some of my most favourite) outfits, there was a wall covered from floor to ceiling in 6-inch thick leather-bound books that were comprised of every single letter of condolence sent to Kensington Palace, St. James Palace, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House after her death.  Some of the books were open to various letters, many of which were addressed to her boys.

Finally, the end of the exhibit focused on the Diana Princess of Wales memorial fund- photos of her in Africa lined the walls.  I vividly remember watching her funeral in 1997, knowing that the world had lost someone very special.  I’ve always been a fan of Diana’s, so seeing her personal artefacts was absolutely surreal to me.  I still regularly wonder what she’d be like now and how she would have continued to contribute to the world.   Walking around I truly appreciated the woman that she was and the woman that she likely would have been today- something hard to understand at 9.

After the exhibit, Jordan and I made our way to Oval Lake, where Diana is buried.  Her remains (apparently) are buried on an island situated in the middle of the lake, but I must say the state of the island is rather disappointing.  You’ll see in the photo below that the pedestal that holds an urn is almost completely overgrown by trees.  I don’t know if there is significance to this, but it is quite an eye sore if I may give my honest opinion.

Although not pictured, four black swans reamin permanently in the lake, guarding her island

There is also a large Diana memorial at the top of the path.  A bench that was given to her brother sits in the middle of the memorial, underneath a photo silhouette of the princess.  There were flowers and cards scattered throughout the memorial, most of which were left on Sunday- her birthday.

The path leading to the memorial is lined with 36 oak trees, one tree for each year of her life.  Other trees are scattered about, having been planted in her memory- some of which were planted by Princes William and Harry.

The Spencer estate from the back, returning from the lake.

Althorp from the front.

And now, finally, coming back to the topic of my luck.  As it turns out, Earl Spencer was at Althorp yesterday.  So I was given the absolute pleasure of meeting and speaking with Diana’s brother.  I could not have gotten closer to her if I tried.  If she was anything like him, she would have been a delight to talk to.  He was very kind, taking time out of his day to sign a book that I had purchased (personalising it along the way) and posing for a photo.  We spoke about school, what I’m studying and how long I’ll be here.  He also, noticing my American accent, told me all about a visit from The Today Show, the crew of which was at Althorp two days prior, reporting on the passing through of the Olympic torch.

Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother

After snapping a photo he headed back to his office to finish up a day’s work.  Jordan and I looked around inside the house for a bit and then I (begrudgingly, because I could have stayed forever) told her we could return to London.