LONDON (Reuters) - Waking up with a black coffee as her train rolled out of London, Pam Boothby explained how she had not missed a royal wedding in four decades - not even when it fell on her child's birthday or when she lived abroad.
The experience has changed with the passage of time. When she first went as a spectator to Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981, she was with a group of friends. Now it has become a family tradition and her husband comes along.
The Boothbys were among thousands of well-wishers who boarded trains out of London on the way to Windsor to watch the wedding of Prince Harry and U.S. actress Megan Markle.
Wearing a Union Jack dress, Boothby said she had come down from Boston in central England the night before and got up at 4 a.m. to get an early train to Windsor to watch the celebrations.
“It is a magical occasion and being here will create memories that will last forever,” she said.
“This is a particularly special wedding because Meghan will change the royal family by making it more modern and bringing her own sense of style.”
At Waterloo, Britain’s busiest train station, rail officials doubled the number of trains to Windsor and added extra carriages to accommodate the crowds.
People from all walks of British life got on the trains, and many were carrying flags, wearing masks with the faces of members of the royal family, and sporting the patriotic colors red, white and blue.
A man on the train offering flags with the faces of Harry and Meghan for 3 pounds ($4) each, or two for 5 pounds, said he had sold more than 50 in the last hour.
Many of the passengers, such as Jenna Drenten, 33, from America, had crossed continents or countries to be there.
Drenten, a marketing professor from Chicago, said she had always been fascinated by the royal family, but Meghan being American made this event stand out.
“This wedding is extra special because we have a legitimate interest in the wedding,” she said. “It is like we have an invite.”
Many of the passengers on the train said the occasion symbolized the continuity of the monarchy and thus Britain itself, at a time when the country is divided over Brexit and has faced terrorist attacks.
“It is a time when the nation can come together rather than being divided," said Kenny McKinlay, 60, who was wearing a Union Jack t-shirt. “It is a day when you can be proud to be British.”
Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Giles Elgood