“Spot of tea?”
Sandra Carter, a partner at R Public House, carried a floral teapot and refilled the teacups at her table. She was wearing a black dress with pearls and a large white hat.
On Saturday morning, the R Public House hosted a live watch party of the BBC World News coverage of the royal wedding of British Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.
The venue, located at 1508 Jarvis Ave., one mile from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, opened its doors at 5:45 a.m. for the coverage that started at 6 a.m. Carter said she was surprised at the turnout because the venue was standing room only.
Markle, an actress from Los Angeles, California, married Prince Henry of Wales, a member of Britain’s royal family. Their Royal Highnesses are now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The wedding took place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
This is the first royal wedding since Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, married Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in April 2011.
Many viewers wore fascinators — British-style headwear — and gossiped over Meghan Markle and her Givenchy wedding dress. They cheered as Harry lifted Markle’s veil, whenever the camera panned on a celebrity and when the bride and groom kissed. They also made suggestive remarks when the priest mentioned a “sexual union.”
“I’m from the UK and a friend of mine and I chatted and decided that we’d open the doors early and see if anybody would show up,” Carter said.
R Public House gave Rogers Park residents, such as Mary Ann Culleton, a chance to enjoy a British tradition.
“Happy to be at R Public House in Rogers Park to celebrate the royal wedding, very exciting,” Culleton said. “I remember as a child growing up in Ireland watching Princess Diana and Charles getting married so, it brings back memories and I’m just excited to be here.”
Some families, like customer Tasha Neumeistr’s, practice the tradition of following royal weddings. Neumeistr is communications manager for the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola.
“I came really because my mother passed away three years ago and about a week, and she was a serious Anglophile [admirer of England]” Neumeistr said, “and so for me, this is my way of honoring her.”
Neumeistr said the wedding is symbolic in more ways than one.
“I think this wedding represents a joining of– almost like a reuniting of– the Brits and Americans. And it’s really emblematic of how times are changing,” Neumeistr said. “You know, Meghan Markle’s background, she’s a self-identified biracial woman, and Harry, who has really gone through a lot and really come out the other side of things, and in some ways it’s the maverick of the royal family.”
Another customer, Shilba Rajpurkar, said she loved following the royal wedding and seeing Markle meet her “prince charming.”
“I think the wedding draws all of us in because [Markle] is very relatable; she’s an American, mixed-ethnicity,” Rajpurkar said. “I think the way they met is very sincere – by getting set up by a mutual friend… It’s all just very relatable.”
Rajpurkar and her two friends wore gold paper crowns.
“We wanted to be around people, have the liveliness of the city, and just really enjoy a gathering for the occasion,” Rajpurkar said.
For others, the event was a chance to experience British culture.
“I came for the scones,” customer April Carlson said.
R Public House served only traditionally British items during the event, such as tea, scones, strawberries and cream, wedding cake cocktails, and more.
“[We are] enjoying a great party with tea and scones and full English breakfast and everybody’s loving the wedding,” Carter said.
Aside from hosting events similar to this one, R Public house is a “community-driven pub” that also serves as an “anchor business in the neighborhood, providing an atmosphere for entertainment and light dining, philanthropy, and goodwill for the diverse population of Rogers Park,” according to their website.
As customers began to clear out, many took photos with the employees adorned in British military gear standing next to cardboard cutouts of Prince Harry and Markle.
“[Prince Harry and Meghan] will be the new face, for me, of royalty,” Neumeistr said.