As luck would have it, my office building looks out onto the back of the Four Seasons, where Will and Kate were staying during their visit. Although I work remotely most of the time, my student employees and I had decided weeks earlier to work in the office on Friday, December 2—which was the day of the big awards ceremony and Will and Kate’s last day in Boston. I had taken the afternoon off work so I could stand outside of the ceremony venue, MGM Music Hall, to watch all of the celebrities walk the green carpet. I informed my student employees ahead of time that I would be scoping out the royals on Friday morning and they were welcome to join me.
The night before, when I was staking them out at the Four Seasons, a fan said that she had gathered some intel at a coffee shop that morning: Kate and her staff would be leaving the hotel around 9:30 am to head to Harvard University, where she would be visiting the Center on the Developing Child. I got to the office early and set up shop in an open area that looked out onto the hotel’s side street, where the garage is located. I didn’t see any action from my perch, but around 9:25 am, my student employees and I scooted over to the hotel. We were surprised to see a bunch of news cameras set up across from the hotel’s main entrance. About 20 people were standing a short distance from the entrance, their gaze focused on the front doors.
I stood there thinking to myself that they would never walk out of the hotel’s front doors. There was no big security presence, and I didn’t see any motorcade waiting to whisk them away. I wondered if the news cameras were asked to set up in the front, so Will and Kate could sneak out of the garage on the side street. A few women had the same thought, and they moved to the corner of the side street so they could monitor both locales. For the next hour or so, I walked back and forth between my student employees standing at the front and the two women standing at the side street. Just as I was ready to give up and go back to the office, we noticed a few news cameras had set up across from the garage’s entrance on the side street. I motioned wildly to my student employees and they jogged over to the side street. We stood as close to the garage’s entrance as we could.
In a blink, everyone standing in the front had joined us. There were probably 60 people at that point. A State Department employee shooed a few people away who were very close to the garage entrance. Kate’s motorcade was subdued compared to the previous night’s; it consisted of only a few cars. We all took photo and video of Kate’s green Range Rover driving by, hoping that she would roll down the window and wave. Alas, no wave.
The students and I walked back to the office, debriefing on the events. I told them that I would continue my watch from the office window because it was publicized that Will would be going to the JFK Library and Museum around lunchtime for a private tour from JFK’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and her children. President Biden was slated to meet with Will at the museum briefly as well.
We were only in the office for about 30 minutes when I heard and saw a helicopter heading toward the hotel. “It’s go time, ladies,” I barked, and the students and I ran downstairs to a spot across from the garage entrance, where two news cameras and a few people were gathered.
“Where is everyone?” we whispered to each other repeatedly. As we stood there among six or seven others, a cameraperson approached us and asked if we’d like to be interviewed. We all said, “Sure,” and he whipped out a microphone and started asking each of us different questions.
Soon after that excitement ended, we saw the bomb trucks drive by and then the first black car with flashing blue and red lights. I put my phone down so I could focus intently on William’s Range Rover and see if I could make out a wave behind tinted windows.
I think I saw a hand go up in the back seat as his car drove by. He very well could have seen me because there were so few people waiting! I couldn’t believe our luck. My students and I were the definition of “starstruck.” I felt like one of those cartoon characters with a circle of stars whirling around their head after being knocked out. But I had to pull myself together. I had one more hour of work to get through until I headed over to the MGM Music Hall.
One hour later, I bid farewell to the students and took the subway to Kenmore Square. I was arriving two hours before the start time of the ceremony, so I assumed that it was going to be pretty packed already. And it was. The best viewing spots were already three or four people deep. This was a big deal for Boston: lots of celebrities would be in attendance, including Annie Lennox, Rami Malek, and Billie Eilish.
I decided to walk to another side of the street, where it was only one person deep. It’s always helpful to be able to lean against the barricade when you’re standing somewhere for hours on end. I was standing a few people down from a large group of teenagers who were quite raucous. From their chatter, I gleaned that they were there to see Billie Eilish. They were singing songs (presumably hers)…and as I watched one scene play out, I thought I was watching the movie Fame. So, I was not surprised when I overheard that the students were from the local performing arts high school.
I thought my vantage point was decent…until I realized that my view of the green carpet was going to be blocked by all of the photographers. And the whole green carpet area was filling up. And then a person with a handicapped placard parked…right in front of my area. It blocked any view of anything that I would have.
Sigh. So, once the celebs started arriving, all I could do was hold my camera high and click away and hope that I captured something. I caught glimpses of Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Rami Malek, David Beckham, and Will and Kate. And that was it.
I was frozen solid and exhausted from the day’s events, but it was worth it to be part of Boston’s history. I had read that the British royals hadn’t visited Boston since 1976, so I may not get a chance to see any royals up close ever again.
PBS is streaming the ceremony, and I plan to watch it over the holidays. I watched some of the promo videos, and the award finalists are doing amazing work!
Have you ever seen the royals close up? Let us know in the comments!