Everyone jokes about getting to see or meet English royalty when they come to study abroad in the UK, but most of us have only gotten as close as the gates outside of Buckingham Palace. Unlike all of us peasants, UCI student Celine Deleon, who studied at the University of Manchester, actually got to have a full on conversation with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in real life! We’re swooning. Sadly, little Prince George and Princess Charlotte weren’t in attendance, but read on for Celine’s recap of the amazing day she got to chat with royalty…
My name is Celine Deleon and I am a third year student at UC Irvine. This past fall, I spent a semester at the University of Manchester. It was definitely the best three and a half months of my life!
One of my favorite memories from my time in Manchester happened last October. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were coming to Manchester. Apparently, it was the first time in several years that members of the Royal Family were coming to Manchester. The Royals were even making a stop at my university which was amazing to hear! I was thrilled because I never thought that in my lifetime, I would get a chance to meet the royal couple. After the announcement, I ‘googled’ the locations in Manchester they were going to be at. The media released the locations they were going to but not the times they were going to be there. The night before they came, I messaged one of my friends who happens to be a UCEAP student as well (shout out to Maria Rivera!!). We decided to get up early and go to all the places they were supposed to be at in Manchester. Their scheduled first stop was the National Football Museum so we planned to get there at around 10 am. During the morning of their arrival, the media released the times they were going to be at each location in Manchester. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were scheduled to arrive at the National Football Museum at 11:20 a.m. My friend and I got on the bus to City Centre and from there, we walked to the National Football Museum.
When we arrived in front of the museum, we saw about 20 people lining up against the barriers the police put up. I was surprised because I expected more people to show up early. Across from the barriers, there were photographers setting up their equipment. We were able to place ourselves next to the barrier which gave us a perfect view of the walkway the Royals were going to pass through. While waiting for the Duke and Duchess to arrive, I noticed that a lot of people brought flowers and small gifts for them. Next to us, there was a group of schoolchildren with paper crowns, flowers, and face masks of each member of the Royal Family. It was so adorable that the photographers started taking pictures of them and the children kept doing cute poses for the cameras.
At about 11:15 a.m., the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at the museum. Their car pulled up right in front of the museum entrance. I was so in awe of their presence. The entire crowd was screaming and cheering. As cliché as this may sound, watching them get out of the car was like a scene out of a movie. They went straight inside after waving to the crowd. At first, the crowd was confused about whether or not the Duke and Duchess would come greet us after their visit at the museum. My friend and I decided to wait and see if we would get a chance to meet them.
About an hour later, they came outside and started greeting everyone along the barrier. My heart was beating so fast because I never thought I would actually meet members of the Royal Family up close. When they were about two people away from me, I somehow managed to get a boost of confidence in order to greet them. The Duchess of Cambridge came up to me first and shook my hand. I told her that we came all the way from the United States to see her. It caught her attention and she started asking me questions about where I’m from and what I’m doing in Manchester. Honestly, talking to her felt like a surreal experience. She is so down-to-earth and humble. We talked for about 30 seconds which was more interaction time than I thought I would get with any member of the Royal Family. She cared about what I had to say and she had such a graceful presence. Then, the Duke of Cambridge came up to me and shook my hand. I also told him the same thing I told Kate. He seemed pretty excited to talk to me and he was interested in getting to know me just like Kate! We talked for 30 seconds as well. He even asked me which football team I supported and I told him the first team that popped into my head, which was Manchester United. He said, “Oh, be careful!” because Manchester has two football teams. He was very charming and charismatic! After meeting them, I was on cloud nine. I could not stop fangirling with my friend. We squealed and had big smiles on our faces.
I can’t believe I had the courage to talk to them. I guess something in me clicked that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I had to make the most of it. It was a dream that I never thought would actually happen. I was in the right place at the right time. I guess I can check meeting royalty off my bucket list! It was exciting to meet the future King and Queen of England (possibly)! For anyone studying abroad in England, you never know who you might get a chance to meet while abroad! Be open to opportunities and experiences while studying abroad. Maybe a member of the Royal Family will come to your host city next!!
Photos and video courtesy of Celine Deleon