EAGER sailors who will be providing the ceremonial guard when Prince Harry ties the knot with Meghan Markle have said they’re ready to play their part in the historic occasion.
A combined team of 50 sailors and Royal Marines have been sharpening their skills for Saturday’s spectacle, which is expected to be watched by millions of people across the globe.
They will take pride of place as the final contingent of Britain’s 250-strong military guard of honour for the royal couple as they head into St George’s chapel, in Windsor Castle.
Half of the team is made up of Royal Marines from 30 Commando, with the rest being drawn from the navy’s small ships and diving units – many of whom are based in Portsmouth.
And to prepare for the celebration, the team have been rehearsing at Fareham’s naval base, HMS Collingwood.
AB Andy Waller is a diver based at HMS Excellent on Horsea Island. He has already been involved in high-profile events in the capital, from destroying a 500kg German bomb in the Thames earlier this year to providing security for the 2012 London Olympics.
But the 41-year-old said being part of the wedding guard was a career high, adding: ‘This is incredible, you’re being a part of history.’
Fellow diver, AB Richard Chumbley, 27, of Portsmouth, said his family has been blown away by his role at the global event.
He said: ‘I have only been in the navy two-and-a-half years. This has got to be the highlight so far. It’s not very often you get to go to a royal wedding and certainly get front row seats for it.
‘I’m going to have goosebumps. It’s going to be one to savour – one of those moments to tell the grandkids about.’
Asked how he felt the naval team would perform with the eyes of the globe’s media on them, he said: ‘We’re trained to do it, we’ve proven it here today. We’ve just got better and better. So we’re going to smash it and deliver the goods on the day.
‘This is absolutely showing the best of British and I’d like to think the Royal Navy, as the Senior Service, is going to smash it.’
As well as being the first to welcome the newly-wedded couple out of the chapel, the guard will also salute the Queen and other members of the royal family as they pass.
WO Eddie Wearing, 42, of Gosport, is the Royal Navy’s state ceremonial training officer and the man in charge of getting the team ship-shape.
The dad-of-two said he was ‘honoured and privileged’ to have been part of the day, adding: ‘This is one of the top events I think I will ever conduct in my career.’
Looking for perfection, he said he has been drilling his team since Monday.
‘I’ve told them there is potentially 1.9 billion people watching it across the globe,’ he added. ‘They’ve just got to switch off from that and remain focused on the job at hand.’
Asked if the navy is braced for the pressure, he said: ‘We’re ready to go.’
The hour-long wedding begins at midday. Prince Harry is Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving and he is also Captain General Royal Marines.