The countdown is on to Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018. The big day itself may be taking place of in Windsor, but plenty of Londoners will be taking to pubs and street parties to celebrate. With the special event taking part on a Saturday, that means many of us will be free to join in the revelry. It’ll be an early start with the ceremony itself kicking off at 12pm. Here’s a list of just some of the celebrations in the capital, with all taking place on 19 May unless otherwise stipulated. Fingers crossed for some good weather!
- Royal Wedding Brunch Party @ Bluebird
King’s Road destination Bluebird will be hosting a brunch party in their sunny courtyard. Watch the wedding on the big screen surrounded by bunting, balloons and bubbly. Guests can enjoy a champagne toast to the happy couple before a BBQ-style brunch by Executive Chef Simon Gregory. A DJ will be on the decks until darkness, while mixologists have created a special wedding cocktail menu. Brunch: £25pp. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
- Royal Wedding 21st Century Tea Dance Party! @ Southbank Centre
The traditional tea dance is turned on its head in a special event hosted by Christopher Green and his alter ego Ida Barr. Expect a multimedia treat of live music, video, theatre, performance, storytelling, singing, dancing and the screening of the Royal Wedding. From 11am. Free. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- The Official Royal Wedding Party
Two set of festivities depending on if you’re a day or night owl in the stunning Grade II listed church. The day event will feature live streaming of the wedding, bouquet and corsage making, wedding cake decorating, Bloody Mary cocktail class, traditional British games, a hog roast and lots of champagne. There will be live big bands, first dance classes and a ‘Have I Got News For You’ style comedy panel. The evening event will feature dance classes, catch-the-bouquet, American food in honour of the bride, live tribute acts, a string quartet and wedding cake. Day event 11am-5pm, tickets £25. Night event 7pm-2am, tickets £30. One Marylebone, 1 Marylebone Road, Marylebone, NW1 4AQ. Nearest station: Great Portland Street or Regents Park. For tickets, visit the Official Royal Wedding Party website.
- The Royal Wedding @ National Maritime Museum
Watch the happy couple tie the knot on the big screen in the lawn in front of the National Maritime Museum. Royal fancy dress encouraged. 10am-3pm. Free entry. National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, SE10 9NF. Nearest station: Maze Hill, Cutty Sark or Greenwich. For more information, visit the RMG website.
- Royal Brunch Party @ Aster
Celebrate Harry and Meghan tying the knot just a short distance from Buckingham Palace at Victoria dining destination Aster. Watch the ceremony on the big screen while feasting on a traditional brunch menu inspired by the couple and bottomless Prosecco. Also in the week running up to the royal wedding (14-19 May), Aster will be serving a special Royal Cocktail collection inspired by the pair, including The Jolly Ginger, the Botswana Sunrise, The Lost Bachelor and the Markle Sparkle. 12pm-4pm. Aster, 150 Victoria Street, Westminster, SW1E 5LB. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the Aster website. Read the rest of this entry
The red telephone box is one of Britain’s biggest icons – it’s up there with red London bus, Big Ben, Beefeaters, the Union Jack and Queen Elizabeth II herself.
But for tourists arriving in London ahead of the Olympics, may find themselves slightly confused by the bizarre-looking phoneboxes dotted around the capital.
However, these multi-coloured and embellished street furniture haven’t been vandalised, they are simply part of the BT ArtBox project to mark the 25th anniversary of children’s charity Childline. They have invited artists and companies to customise their own replica box, which have been displayed around the city. But don’t get too carried away, these boxes don’t include a working phone should you need one, they’re simply for your viewing pleasure.
With the use of telephone boxes on the rapid decline since the popularity of mobile phones, I think the ArtBox project is an ingenious way to celebrate this iconic structure that draws so many tourists to pose inside them, as well as raise awareness and money for Childline. Following their display around the streets of London, they are to be auctioned off.
Before we find out about some of the Artboxes I have come across, a quick history about the real things. The first public telephone box was designed in 1920 for the Post Office and named K1 (Kiosk No.1), based on the same idea as the Police Telephone Boxes and Posts. However, the London Metropolitan Boroughs weren’t too impressed with the design and so the Fine Arts Commission judged a competition to find a more attractive and practical design. The winner was a London-born architect named Giles Gilbert Scott (who later designed Battersea Power Station) who came up with a classical style with a dome on top – inspired by Sir John Soane’s mausoleums at St Pancras Old Churchyard and Dulwich Picture Gallery (read my blog on the current Andy Warhol exhibition here).
So with the K2 design chosen, the Post Office chose to make it red so it easily to stand out to the public searching the streets for a payphone. Various different models followed, the K3, K4 and K5, but it is the K6 one which is most famous today.
Sir Giles designed the K6 model in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V. The model was rolled out across the country with the amount of public phone boxes in Britain rising from 8,000 in 1930 to 19,000 in Silver Jubilee year, rising even further to 35,000 by the time World War II broke out.
Today, with a majority of the boxes owned by BT and a lot less attractive, modern phone boxes instead and the widespread use of mobile phones, you will find the red telephone boxes aren’t in such demand as they used to be. The days of queuing for a phone box and huffing and puffing when you’re stuck in a line behind a right chatterbox appear to be long gone.
With the BT ArtBox auction having gone live on eBay on Monday 16th July (ending Sunday 22nd July), there isn’t much time left to check out the boxes on show. Here’s a selection of a few I’ve spotted so far…
Many tourists are likely to come across the two on a traffic island in Trafalgar Square – Mandii Pope’s ‘Big Ben’ and Lauren O’Farrell’s ‘Dial M For Monster’. A short hop away outside Charing Cross Station on The Strand is Fred Butler’s Mobile Phone, designed to look like a vintage mobile. With actual buttons, it creates nostalgia for a design already outdated by Smartphones.
Another popular tourist spot where the public will come across the ArtBoxes is in Potter’s Field Park – the green expanse outside City Hall on the south bank of the River Thames. Right beside the base of Tower Bridge is London & Partner’s ‘Welcome To London’ box, a white box covered in speech bubbles with different languages to represent the multi-cultural melting pot that is London.
Less than a minute’s walk to the East of City Hall are two ArtBoxes – Aboud & Aboud’s ‘Shocking Conversation’, which looks like an unfinished box which has been partially dunked in red paint. It has been described as the colour is ‘draining out’ of the box.
Next to it stands Peter Anderson’s ‘London Calling’, which features iconic images of Joe Strummer and The Clash from the 1980s.
While most of the ArtBoxes are in and around the City and West End, some are dotted a bit further out, including Westfield Stratford, Canary Wharf and Ravenscourt Park. Just outside the West End are two located in and outside the Royal Albert Hall.
The ArtBox outside, entitled ‘Ring-A-Royal Phonebox’ created by children’s TV presenter Timmy Mallett, has a royal theme, which is very apt considering the origins of the concert venue and the fact the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live a short walk away in Kensington Palace. Each side of the box contains some of the most popular members of the Royal Family – the Queen herself, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Kate Middleton is recognisable with her glossy brown hair and blue dress and is pushing a pram – significant to the pressure she is under to produce a royal heir. The Queen is accompanied by one of her beloved Corgis, while Harry is pulling Usain Bolt’s classic pointing pose – so the ArtBox is both celebrating the Royal Jubilee, while making a nod to the Olympics.
For another blog posts on a Giles Gilbert Scott creation, read A look inside Battersea Power Station before the developers move in
Or to read about his grandfather Sir George Gilbert Scott’s creations, click A bit of bling amongst the green: The glistening Albert Memorial in Hyde Park or inside the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel: Afternoon tea at The Gilbert Scott review: Treat yourself in stunning Gothic surroundings.