After its massive journey of some 13 000 kms, the Olympic Torch finally arrived just minutes from where we are staying in London, at Buckingham Palace. No, we are not staying at Buckingham Palace, but the Stanley Hotel, near Victoria Station, is like a palace to us!
We walked up to the palace in the late afternoon with the torch due to arrive at around 6:30. We were amazed to get a great spot right near the palace gates. It was swarming with security guards, police, special forces and military personnel, many of whom were trying to get their own photos of the occasion! Everyone is a photographer these days, it seems. Chatting with the people around us was great fun. In spite of all the rubbish in the media, the Brits are clearly embracing the Olympics!
The usual caravan of support vehicles preceded the torch: horses, motor-bikes, cars, trucks, buses, even police on bicycles with machine-guns in long sporty-looking bags on their backs! It’s hard to imagine why one guy with a torch needs a ‘support crew’ of literally hundreds.
The big moment arrived and the torch-bearer passed less than two metres in front of us and disappeared through the palace gates.
Our part of the crowd then surged to the right, expecting to see Prince William, Kate and Prince Harry up on the royal balcony, hopefully having a kiss again. But this time they were standing only 20 metres or so inside the fence: up close and personal!
Within moments it was all over and the circus moved on to Hyde Park for another ceremony and a concert.