Royal Wedding Sparks Huge Security Operation

Royal Wedding Sparks Huge Security Operation

Local police said they began preparing security plans for the big day as soon as the couple disclosed details on the venue for the wedding.

Millions will tune in to view Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchange vows on Saturday, May 19. In addition to the viewers, there will be 600 guests in attendance, 100,000 visitors and 5,000 journalists to the surrounding areas, plus the security forces tasked with keeping the royal wedding safe.

Local police said they began preparing security plans for the big day as soon as the couple disclosed details on the venue for the wedding. Thankfully, Prince Harry and Markle chose a castle, complete with moat, for their wedding to take place.

Yet, with 100,000 visitors expected to descend on Windsor, the small historic town where the wedding is to be held, along with VIPs and 1,200 members of the public who have been invited, those working to keep the wedding safe will need to also be ready for a variety of security challenges including the castle, transportation and tourist spots around town.

Police started installing security measures around town months ago. Automatic license plate recognition technology has been checking vehicles coming into town, while officers are also conducting random stops. Large steel and concrete barriers have gone up inside and outside Windsor to prevent vehicle attacks and sniffer dogs routinely search mailboxes, and even the drains have been searched and sealed.

Three thousand police officers are expected to flood the venue town, with authorities focusing on four main threats: terrorism, royal obsessives, public protects and crimes of opportunity, like pickpocketing.

“You have a celebration and a royal family that like to be accessible to the public. That has to be matched against security, and they’re not always happy bedfellows,” said former London Metropolitan Police Commander Robert Broadhurst.

The biggest security headache for police will be the royal couple's carriage ride through Windsor after the ceremony.

“The carriage is several hundred years old, it's unprotected, it's not ballistic proof, it's not bullet-proof, it's not stab-proof, it's nothing-proof,” said Broadhurst, who coordinated security operations at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2011 wedding of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. "You have a crowd that's largely unsearched, who could have anything on them, from weapons to paint to graffiti to maggots to confetti, all of which poses a threat."

Keeping with tradition, most police will not carry firearms, although armed officers will be on streets ready to respond if needed. There will also likely be a police helicopter or two circling above the crowd, with cameras that can identify faces, as well as tiny details like the time on your watch, according to Broadhurst.

While there hasn't been a number associated with security costs yet, but police spent about $8.5 million, including almost $3.8 million on police overtime, for William and Kate's wedding.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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