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Within the walls of Windsor

Windsor Castle--the Royal Collection Trust states that it is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Today it was on show in all of its beauty and glory, its walls witness to a love story that makes us believe in happy endings. Today Prince Harry and his beautiful beloved Meghan got married amid pomp and pageantry that felt like an elegant party rather than formal ceremony. It was worth every hour of lost sleep to watch with a breathless world as the first guests arrived, perfectly coifed and dressed, and imagine the feeling of really being there when even from afar we felt such anticipation and excitement. 

As I watched the wedding from Canada, my brother, Rob, was doing the same in England and both of us were thinking of another time in the history of the castle, 70 years ago. 

In 1947 my father, Chris Cater, was in the Grenadier Guards and stationed at Caterham Barracks. One day when off duty, he met a 21-year-old Dutch girl, who would one day be my mother, at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. The next spring she came back to England with a Dutch friend to work in the housekeeping department at Farnborough Hospital in Kent. There she met an 18-year-old girl from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, named May, who would become a lifelong friend. Soon after, she found her new friend sitting in front of a mirror in her room, practising her name over and over in her Geordie accent, "Pieternella Kaatje Janny Schipper!" Mum listened, smiling until May looked around to see her standing in the doorway. 
 Mum was seeing the handsome guardsman whom she had met the year before and would marry later in 1948, and one day the friends went on the one and a half hour bus ride from Farnborough to Windsor Castle, where he was on duty. 

As they crossed the courtyard of the castle, a chorus of wolf whistles greeted the pretty blond and brunette. Although they could see no one, Mum pointed up to the slits in the castle walls and told May that behind each one was a guardsman. 

Mum always wore white ankle socks, so May had decided to wear them too. She decided that the ankle socks must have done it!

As we watched another love story unfolding at Windsor Castle today these sweet memories lived again in our imaginations.


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