Ian Thompson with a program and a souvenir piece of cake from the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The cake was a thank-you gift from Prince Charles to wedding participants. 

(Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)

When Britain's Prince Harry and American Meghan Markle get married in May, their wedding will be as closely choreographed as a Broadway show -- and seen by a much bigger audience than a commoner's stage production.

Take, for example,  the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In the United States alone, an estimated 23 million watched it on television -- the global audience much larger, of course.

But few people, perhaps even Queen Elizabeth II, had a better view than Ian Thompson.  As a member of the staff at Westminster Abbey he was on the altar when the pair exchanged their vows, getting a straight-on view while the queen and her family watched from farther away. 

In some ways, the wedding was not much more than a regular day at the office for Thompson. He was a verger at the abbey, a church post that includes arranging the service and leading clergy processions, and he's participated in several previous ceremonies featuring royalty.

That said, he told Colorado Matters, it was stirring to hear the crowd outside Westminster Abbey cheer when Prince William said, "I do." 

Thompson tells Colorado Matters that a video that emerged after the wedding summed up the relief of the staff when it was over:  Another verger, still in his vestments, is pictured cartwheeling down the abbey's aisle.

A few days after the ceremony, Thompson and other participants received a gift box containing a piece of wedding cake from the groom's father, Prince Charles. Thompson says he hasn't sampled the cake. He jokingly calls it "my pension."