Royal enthusiasts have swerved a ban on tents and slept out on the street in a bid to bag a prime spot for Saturday’s wedding.
With two nights still to go until Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot, some devotees slept rough on Wednesday night.
Fans had been warned not to bring tents if they arrived in Windsor early for the event, but the ban was not enough to put the most determined followers off.
Many were equipped only with a roll mat and a sleeping bag – or at best a camping chair – as they braved chilly temperatures overnight ahead of a rehearsal for the wedding on Thursday.
Their voluntary night on the streets came as a homeless charity offered refuge to rough sleepers who have been subjected to controversial suggestions they should be moved on for the wedding.
The Ark Project drove a bus through Windsor offering beds and warm food, saying it was working to give the town’s homeless a place to stay. The move came after local Conservative council leader, Simon Dudley, sparked a backlash by suggesting rough sleepers could be moved on for the wedding.
Some homeless people have had their belongings taken into storage as a security measure ahead of the wedding, when 100,000 visitors are expected to descend on Windsor. Thames Valley Police said the measures were voluntary, adding: “The Royal wedding is a national celebration and everyone is welcome, however everyone in Windsor on the day of the wedding will be subject to a search and screening.”
The enthusiasts who have bagged prime spots in the town centre will be present as rehearsals will take place today.
Some 250 members of the armed forces are expected to take part in Saturday’s festivities, lining the streets as the newlywed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle head on a 25-minute carriage ride through the town.
After months of planning, Thursday’s dry-run will give organisers a chance to put some finishing touches to the global event.
But as the big day nears, it was reported that Ms Markle’s father has been left “heartbroken” as he will miss the wedding.
Thomas Markle is said to have successfully undergone heart surgery on Wednesday to implant three stents, so will be unable to give his daughter away as he needs time to recover.
He told US website TMZ he was “OK”, although it will take a “long time to heal”.
“Staying in the hospital a few more days. Not allowed to get excited,” he said.
Ms Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, has been tipped as a stand-in to walk their daughter down the aisle at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel.
On Wednesday, Thomas Markle Jr, the brother of Ms Markle, visited Windsor to see where his sibling will marry Prince Harry.
He told the Mirror: “My dad will be heartbroken that he cannot be with Meg in Windsor to walk her down the aisle.
“He would have moved heaven and earth to be there.”
Mr Markle Jr said his sister will be a “perfect modern princess” and “one of the best things ever to have happened to the royal family”.
Members of Ms Markle’s family have travelled to the UK amid intense attention from the world’s media.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, her half-sister, Samantha Markle, was reportedly injured following a “paparazzi confrontation” in Florida.