The royal wedding may be Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's big day, but it will also be a special occasion for their many guests, including 12-year-old Amelia Thompson, who survived the bombing at Ariana Grande's Manchester concert one year ago. Thompson is one of the 1,200 members of the U.K. public who was invited to attend the wedding, and she's bringing a special gift in memory of those who were killed in the attack. “We’re going to take a pillar candle which has the names of the 22 people who died on it,” she told People.com, adding that she wants to ask St. George's Chapel to light the candle on May 22, the bombing anniversary. “It’s just something a little personal. It’ll mean all the 22 people will be there.”
People reported that Thompson will be going to the wedding with her friend Sharon Goodman, whose 15-year-old granddaughter, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, was one of the 22 people who died in the bombing. In the year since the attack, Thompson and Goodman's families have grown close, according to People, and Goodman was the first person she thought of bringing along when the invitation arrived on her mom's cell phone. Thompson said her mother, Lisa Newton, immediately dropped her phone from shock upon receipt of the invite.
“I was with my dog and I asked her what was wrong and then she showed me,” Thompson told People. “It was an email on her phone. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I thought it was fake. Then when I started reading it, I realized that it was real, and I was just overwhelmed by it all.”
According to People, Thompson is looking forward to shopping for a prom dress and shoes to wear to the wedding, and plans to ask Meghan Markle for a selfie and meet some other special guests. “I think she’s hoping that she meets one of the princes,” Newton told People. “But she’ll be happy either way. I just want her to have an enjoyable time and that it’s a positive experience for her."
“My favorite royal is Prince Harry. He just seems so nice," Thompson told People, adding, “I’m looking forward to spending the day with Sharon and seeing Meghan’s dress, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the royal family."
The royal wedding will be something for Thompson to look forward to as she continues to deal with the trauma from the Manchester bombing and recovers from a throat biopsy she had to undergo from screaming during the attack, People reported. “She’s changed—she’s not herself any more. She’s not like the old Amelia,” Newton told People. “She’s like a 20-year-old in a 12-year-old’s body. I’m sure a lot of the kids at the concert are. She’s lost a lot of trust in people and isolated herself away. It’s made her look at people in a different way.”
Newton added to People that her focus is making sure her daughter gets up every morning with a smile on her face, which the royal wedding is already doing. “We never expected this at all. It’s wonderful. She is so overwhelmed,” she told the outlet. "She’s been walking on cloud nine and smiling. It’s given her a huge lift.”
“It is going to help me, but there’s quite a lot of people going, so I am quite nervous, but I’m just really excited to go,” Thompson added. “I can’t wait!”