The royal wedding brings out plenty of styles and emotions. TOP: Elaine Walls enjoys a toast. ABOVE LEFT: Sara Wohlfarth sits with family and friends. ABOVE RIGHT: Blue Anchor owner Peggy Snyder juggles a bar full of reservations. Photos by Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Ron Hayes
You have to wonder.
What could make so many men and women get up, dress up and venture out to The Blue Anchor Pub so early, just to watch a wedding so far away?
The tradition? The romance? The “Royal Brekkie” of bangers and English bacon, baked beans and mushrooms, grilled tomato, black pudding, two eggs and toast? The alcohol?
And those fashions!
Consider that gentleman perched at a high table by the side door. He is friendly but politely declines to give his name — perhaps because at 6 a.m. on a Saturday he has appeared in public wearing a white T-shirt and black suit coat, a cummerbund embroidered with Felix the Cat, black Bermuda shorts and flip-flops.
“My formal black flip-flops,” he notes.
He is not alone. By 7 a.m. on May 19, the pub is nearly full, and all seven big-screen tellies are tuned to Windsor Castle, where it’s already noon and Prince Harry, sixth in the line to the British throne, will soon be wed to Ms. Meghan Markle, a commoner, an actress and American no less.
“I think we’re here because the invitation got lost in the mail,” Elaine Johnson says. “And The Blue Anchor is the next-best thing to being there.”
Indeed it is. Opened in 1864 on London’s fabled Chancery Lane, The Blue Anchor thrived there until 1996, when the building came down, a parking lot went up, and the pub’s exterior — huge oak doors, dark paneling and stained-glass windows — was dismantled and shipped across the pond to Delray Beach.
LEFT: Dan Meister toasts people in his group, including (l-r) his wife, Mimi, Louise Glover and Mia Anderton. The Meisters met at the pub 20 years ago, and Mimi’s birthday was the same day as the royal wedding. ABOVE: British native Lucie Carney wipes away a tear.
“I’m not really sure why I’m doing this,” muses Lisette Molins, who’s from Venezuela. “I grew up hearing about the royal family. It’s not like I have feelings for them, but any excuse to celebrate life is good … and I’ve had a crush on Harry since I was a kid.”
It’s a joyful mix of the reverent and the ridiculous, with Union Jacks poking from black top hats, tuxedo T-shirts and top-heavy feathers, even a straw cowboy hat, perhaps in honor of the bride’s American roots.
When the bride arrives at St. George’s Chapel, a woman cries, “Oh, look! Oh, my God!”
Elaine Walls and her flowered hat are watching from a corner of the bar.
“My daughter bought me a present of four days in London in July,” she explains, “so I’m getting in the mood.”
Her friend Nelia Oiler is sporting a big black hat.
“I don’t know what you’d call it,” she admits. “Wide-brimmed?”
And she’s not really sure why so many Americans have gathered here to celebrate the latest incarnation of a monarchy they fought a bloody war to be rid of, either.
“Well, I like to see what they’re wearing,” Oiler begins, then falters. “I’m just interested in them,” she says. “I don’t know why, really.”
Suddenly an unmistakably British accent calls from down the bar.
“Jealousy!” Lucie Carney charges. “Jealousy!”
Carney lives in Delray Beach now but still summers back home in London.
“What is more constant than the royal family?” she asks. “Our queen’s been with us through thick and thin, so we feel they’re part of our family. They’re connecting our past and our future. People say the royal family won’t last, but it will. It will. As long as there’s an England, it will!”
And as long as there’s a United States, some of us will want to cheer when the archbishop of Canterbury intones, “I therefore proclaim that they are husband and wife” — if only from an ocean away, and only for a few hours on a Saturday morning.
Dan and Mimi Meister met in this pub 20 years ago, were proclaimed husband and wife 17 years ago, and today is Mimi’s birthday.
To honor both marriages, Dan Meister is wearing a black top hat, tails and bright red shorts.
“This is outstanding,” he says, eyes on the telly. “It’s a little levity, with everything that’s going on in the world, to see a nice couple celebrating in a nice way.
“And a little pomp and circumstance is always nice.”