WINDSOR, United Kingdom — Intense security measures, massive crowds, jet lag and an hours-long wait did nothing to stop ardent Canadian royal fans from doing everything they could to witness the lavish, star-studded wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday.
The hordes that lined many of the town's historic streets were dotted with red-and-white attire and maple leaves worn by proud Canucks enamoured with the newlyweds.
Of course there were plenty of Union Jacks and Stars and Stripes, too, but Canadian expats and tourists made their presence known with Olympic team sweaters, Mountain Equipment Co-op backpacks, and in the case of one Guelph, Ont., woman, a red and white fascinator with red and white feathers and a Canadian flag.
Among those screaming the loudest were Ontario friends Crystal Kattenhorn of Cambridge, and Nikita Thompson of Kitchener, who planted themselves along The Long Walk that leads to Windsor Castle, where the ceremony took place.
``I've been obsessed with royalty since I was born _ my family emigrated from Britain, I married a British man,'' Kattenhorn said moments after getting a glimpse at the newlyweds when their carriage passed by.
``I've always wanted to see royalty, I've never been close enough before so this was nice to see Prince Harry, absolutely.... I would have died if I would have seen the Queen, but this is fine too.''
Thompson joked about sharing a meaningful glance with Markle and the people's prince, who she admits has always been a favourite: ``We had our moment,'' she said with a wide grin.
``There are so many Canadians, it's fantastic,'' she added of the crowd. ``Everyone is just hyped to be here, I think. It's really exciting.''
Elsewhere on the 4.26-kilometre walk, Newfoundland sisters Paula, Elaine and Joanne Shortall teared up as they watched the ceremony broadcast on a massive screen outside St. George's Chapel.
Elaine Shortall said she caught a glimpse of Prince Harry apparently getting emotional as Markle entered in her gown, and that set her and her sisters off.
"I think he teared up and cried and then he made us more emotional,'' she said, bringing up the tragic death of Diana in August 1997.
``It made us sentimental. I wondered at that moment — obviously it was a happy occasion for him — but I wondered if he was thinking about his mom and where she would have been in this wedding.... It just kind of made me sad for them to have lost that and not be able to share that with Diana on this special day.''
A jubilant spirit dominated the day, with revellers soaking in an unexpectedly bright and sunny morning, and erupting in hoots whenever a celebrity or royal appeared on screen.
Later in the ceremony, parts of the crowd broke into song for the choir's rendition of "Stand By Me," and again later with "God Save the Queen" at the ceremony's end.
Several minutes afterwards, fans cheered as the newlyweds rode past in their open carriage.
For Thompson, her sister and Kattenhorn, it was a welcomed payoff for several hours spent walking to the site, standing in sun, and waiting for their appearance.
"It's worth it,'' said Thompson.
Canada was represented inside the chapel as well, where Markle's friend Jessica Mulroney escorted 10 young page boys and bridesmaids, who included her three children with TV personality Ben Mulroney.
Four-year-old Ivy was a bridesmaid, while seven-year-old twins Brian and John served as pageboys alongside four-year-old Prince George and three-year-old Princess Charlotte, children of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Outside the chapel, Peterborough, Ont. teen Faith Dickinson was among more than 2,600 guests invited to attend the wedding from the castle grounds, where she could only hear the proceedings unfold.
"I had a moment with myself where I shut my eyes and I soaked it all up and it became real,'' the 15-year-old Dickinson said afterwards, dressed in a bespoke silk and lace dress with matching fascinator.
The invite made Dickinson among the first in the world to see the newlyweds after the ceremony, and she says she was thrilled to see them wave and appear to make eye contact with many in the crowd when they emerged.
The 15-year-old was invited because of her charity work with Cuddles For Cancer. Dickinson founded the group at age nine to provide custom blankets to cancer patients and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Shortall sisters believed the future of the monarchy was in good hands with the latest union, and looked forward to seeing where the couple takes it.
"They're young, they're modern, they had a lot of twists in the marriage ceremony itself and some of the traditions, so I think they're going to have a big influence and probably bring in a lot more people, younger people to be interested in the monarchy,'' said Elaine Shortall.
"And to kind of revive it. Like any institution, it has to change or else it's stagnant and it loses people.''