Sunday, July 10, 2011

Royal Welcome

Despite my wacky behavior on Friday, I woke-up this morning wondering just how badly I wanted to see the royal couple as they visited Sony Studios. After all, I had no idea what time they’d be arriving nor even which studio gate they’d be entering. I had no desire to spend my entire Sunday just waiting for the Prince and Duchess.

I am a librarian, however, and like any good librarian I love the challenge of a tough information query. So instead of moping around the house, missing the newlyweds’ stop in Culver City, I decided to figure out exactly when and where they’d be arriving.

My first clue was a 7AM news segment broadcast from Sony’s sound stage #15, where the big event was going to be held. At least I now had an exact location for their visit. The next step was to figure out where sound stage #15 is located. Luckily, I was able to find this nifty map of Sony Studios, which then helped me deduce which gate they would be entering. I remembered that when I saw President Obama in April, the public entered the main gate on Overland. Yet when I saw him leave that night, his motorcade emerged from the south gate on Culver Blvd. Sure enough, the Culver gate is closest to sound stage #15, plus has a VIP parking lot nearby. The royals would be entering via Culver Blvd. Half of the mystery was solved!

But exactly when would they arrive? I scrolled through countless websites, until Karen called (to the rescue again!) to say ABC channel 7 was covering the last leg of William and Kate’s trip. I checked the ABC7 website and not only did it provide a map of the royals’ activities, but also an interactive itinerary with times! Eureka! I now knew exactly when they were due to visit Sony: 1:15PM. I had three hours to prepare.

To test my theory, I took a quick drive by Sony (less than 2 miles from our house). No royal watchers yet, but police cars and officers were suspiciously parked in front of the Culver gate. Confirmation. I decided then and there to return at 12:30PM to see the royals.

At 12:15PM I spied a helicopter circling Sony and so hopped into my car and headed north. Four blocks from the studio entrance, I could already see a crowd gathering across the street . I parked a block away and quickly walked over. I asked the first two women I saw whether William and Kate had arrived.

“No,” they replied. “But we’re not even sure this is the right gate!”

“This is the correct gate,” I stated emphatically, explaining that Obama used this gate when he was here in April. The women gave me a dubious look—their friends were waiting outside the Overland gate. But they decided to stay anyway. I later heard others repeating my Obama explanation. Since we still didn’t know for sure whether the royals were coming our way, I silently crossed my fingers that my theory was right.

The crowd eventually grew to about 200 spectators—mostly women. I was one of the oldest people there. One young woman wore a tiara and others had handmade signs proclaiming their love for Kate and William. A photographer from the local weekly newspaper, The Wave, took pictures and interviewed a group of girls holding a British flag. We all stared intently at the gate across the street and made note of every movement. Police officers arrived a few minutes before 1PM, as did a cadre of men dressed in black suits. Some sort of secret service, we told ourselves. Final proof that this indeed was the right gate—phew!

Regular people in cars drove by, honking and giving us the royal wave. We cheered when the channel 2 news van pulled up (further confirmation!) and when a line of sheriff cars took off east, toward where the royal motorcade would be coming. Then, in an instant, a flurry of activity occurred. I looked down Culver Blvd. and saw flashing lights.

“Here they come!” I said to the women next to me. People at the easternmost end of the crowd began screaming. I looked to my left and traffic had stopped. In front of us, someone had quickly placed orange cones down the middle of the street. Everyone was screaming! I could see the line of Range Rovers turning right into the studio. The crowd suddenly went wild as all 200 people spontaneously ran into the street!

“You guys!” I yelled. “You can’t just run into the street!” I then whispered, “Oh, hell!” to myself and ran after them.

Though some people insisted they saw the Prince smiling and waving, all I could see was the crowd and the top of the Prince’s car. Everyone chanted "KATE AND WILL! KATE AND WILL!" It was very, very exciting.

The motorcade was now fully inside the studio gates as traffic started moving again on Culver Blvd. A nice police officer insisted that we move back to the sidewalk. The crowd, giddy with joy, booed a young man holding a sign that said “Go Back to Canada.” We craned our necks as faceless people emerged from the motorcade. I fancied I saw Kate, but later discovered it wasn’t her at all.

Still, I was glad I went. Though the crowd wasn't going to budge until their heroes left the studio—at least another hour—I had seen enough and so turned to leave. I'll watch the rest of the royals' trip on the news tonight.

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