They came, they saw, they left again. Galway Pulse dispatched some royal watchers to Shop Street to report on the Cambridges’ flying visit to Galway.
By Blathnaid O’Dea and the royal ‘we’
To our left, a man with his glasses on wrong complained loudly to his companion that he couldn’t film because there was a child in his way. We watched in disbelief as the man – and his glasses – wobbled around trying in vain to position his phone so he could film William and Kate’s arrival in Galway.
The offending child could not have been more than three; she was sitting on someone’s shoulders because three-year-olds are not known for being tall or for being good at standing in crowds for extended periods of time.
And the crowd that was gathered on Shop Street to watch William and Kate do a walkabout was fairly substantial. If we were aged three we would have hated it. There was some pushing and shoving of people against security barriers, and the Gardaí had to scold people several times.
The man with the misplaced glasses should have seen that, only he was too busy fretting that he might miss something. As it turned out he didn’t miss anything because the royal couple had not even arrived at Shop Street yet.
William and Kate were running late. They were expected to arrive at any minute to greet the patient Galway public but they got delayed for some reason and we had to wait over an hour for them to show.
We thought the waiting experience was actually the most interesting part of the royals’ brief stop-off on Shop Street, even if the man with the wonky glasses didn’t see it that way.
“The kid is in my way, I can’t film!”
When the Tardy Two eventually deigned to arrive, the whole thing was over in a matter of minutes. From our place in the crowd we could only see William’s head nodding and smiling as he spoke to the lucky few at the front of the crowd.
Barriers separated him and Kate from us; only the media and security were allowed to roam freely in the royals’ designated patch.
We reached our hands out to the royals like we were in a coronavirus colony and they never stopped smiling – which was unnerving. They did their walkabout, shook a few hands, and left as quickly as they came. It was all very underwhelming.
Any excitement that was to be had was in the waiting. Several times the crowd began cheering as if William and Kate arrived only to stop when they realised it was only a cameraman or a sniper.
“I wish I wasn’t so short,” a girl whined as she strained to keep lookout.
“STOP PUSHING AT THE BARRIERS” a Garda bellowed at some unruly royal watchers near her.
“Excuse me,” said a man in a fedora. “They’re expecting me. I have to talk to the Gardaí I need help.”
Some people let him pass them but he never made it to the front. The Gardaí were far too busy to talk to commoners in fedoras; they were calling out to the barista in Café Express for hot chocolates.
We learned on Twitter that the royal couple had only just arrived in the place they had been supposed to visit at 10am. It was by now well past lunchtime.
We looked longingly at the hot chocolates the Café Express staff were passing out over the barriers to the Gardaí. Our stomachs rumbled and we realised we could no longer feel our feet.
Had William and Kate really adapted to Galway time so quickly? We felt a bit foolish, as if we’d wasted our time.
“HURRY UUUUUPP KAAATTTEEE” an impatient young woman exclaimed more than once in the last fifteen minutes of waiting.
Behind us a group of American accented students were discussing what Kate might be wearing. Green? Cream? Orange? Clothes.
Perhaps they heard the speculators, because they did come then. The cheers were absolutely deafening – we couldn’t see a thing – the crowd in front of us raised their phone cameras as high as their arms could reach. We were watching this unfold via augmented reality.
“She’s wearing green again,” someone said.
A woman, who until William and Kate’s arrival had been relatively calm, suddenly leapt like a lunatic and thrust her phone over our shoulder. We glared at her, but, alas, she took no notice and continued filming.
It gave us some satisfaction that she wasn’t getting anything. The tops of peoples’ heads and the sky was all that was available. Kate and William were somewhere in between, shaking the proffered hands of Galway’s sycophantic plebs.
We stood on our tip-toes to catch a glimpse of them and remembered our fallen comrades – the ones who had grown tired of waiting. One woman stood in front of us with her baby in her arms for an hour only to leave a few seconds too early. An English literature student we were standing near had to leave for a lecture. Before he left, he advised us to “do a live-stream.” We gamely replied that he should write a nice little poem about the whole thing.
He could call it ‘Waiting for Kate’ – it would be very absurd; very Beckettian. He wouldn’t even need to make anything up…