The last time I caught the 5am train to Windsor, it was with crowds of people, many of them wearing Union Jacks, heading to the royal town to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Today, the 5.58 from London Waterloo is rather less full. In fact, it’s not full at all.
I had been looking forward to discussing the intricacies of how exactly to pronounce Princess Eugenie’s name with people I didn’t know, or comparing eccentric outfits with my fellow passengers. Instead, I find myself sitting alone, eating a bacon roll and trying not to get ketchup on myself.
In Windsor itself, it’s a little busier, and by 8am there are about 50 people already waiting along High Street. Terry Hutt, 83, who calls himself the Union Jack Man, is among them. He slept here overnight, snuggled down in a sleeping bag, sitting on a fisherman’s chair. This morning he’s dressed head to toe in Union Jack flags.
“I got a couple of hours sleep,” he tells me, smiling. A huge fan of the royals, he attends every event. “I first met the Queen mum when I was four years old. Later in the years she used to invite me to her birthday parties,” he explains. He’s excited at the prospect of spotting the royals, particularly ‘Fergie’.
Sharon Mcewwan, 57, from London has been here since 5am. “I love the royal family and I’m excited to be here with my friends,” she says. “I was here for Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding.” She’s most excited to see the bride and groom and possibly Prince Harry and Meghan. “If I saw the Queen I’d be very excited,” she adds.
On the street I overhear a woman tell the police that there are more of them than members of the public.
But more fans are emerging. Bartly Grahan, 30, from County Durham, shrugs out of his sleeping bag in the middle of the path ready for the day. He’s been sleeping on the street since Wednesday to get a good spot. He’s shivering when I speak to him and, through chattering teeth, tells me he’s excited to see the happy couple go past. He’s been to William and Kate’s wedding and Harry and Meghan’s wedding. “I thought there would be more people,” he says looking around.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons with the first royal wedding of the year, which took place on a sunny Saturday morning in late spring and saw hundreds of thousands descend on the town. That’s likely because the fact Eugenie and Jack have chosen a Friday wedding – so you’d need to take a day off work to attend – and that the Princess, ninth in line to the throne, is perhaps not as popular as her cousin Harry.