Londoners Royal Wedding woes

The marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is a major world event. But for Londoners, it’s a major pain in the…

Jill Starley-Grainger
Tripatini social media site (www.tripatini.com), 2011

Here comes the (princess) bride – and there go the Londoners, fleeing the city, via plane, train, automobile, bicycle, skateboard and any other transportation we can lay our hands on. Why? It’s not >just< because being a fan of the Royal Family is as cool as busting Hammertime moves at a trendy nightclub.

Mainly, it’s because HRH (His Royal Highness) William and HRH(Her Royal Highness)-in-waiting Kate have chosen to hold their wedding – and the inevitable extra public holiday to “celebrate” it – on 29 April 2011, at the perfect and rare confluence of a late Easter combined with an early May holiday (the first Monday of every May is an official holiday in Britain – no idea why), meaning that every employed person in the UK can get an 11-day break www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1332463/Kate-Middleton--Prince-Williams-Royal-wedding-April-29-mean-11-day-holiday.html for the mere cost of three vacation days from work. And for that, we are all truly grateful.

But you’re not coming to rub shoulders with Londoners, are you? You want to see the dress, the parade, the carriages and the tiaras.

And so the city shall be yours, good tourists, to stand on the wrong side of the tube escalator (as the numerous signs say, “stand on the right, walk on the left” – Londoners don’t have time to stand still, people – move, move!), search desperately for a public loo (they’ve nearly all been turned into nightclubs or pop-up restaurants – space is at a premium here), and link arms in one of the hideous chain Oirish pubs (this is Britain, FFS!, not the Emerald Isle), singing Danny Boy and dancing jigs.

But before share the thrilling Royal Wedding events and activities you can enjoy in this, the world’s most exciting city (not that I’m biased), I’ll give you an update on the pre-nuptial news.

Monarch marriage minutiae
Although I rarely dine with the Queen, I know ALL the daily movements of the royals, courtesy the daily, IQ-lowering Royal Wedding news reports about everything from the height of Kate’s Wedding Day heels to the exact measurement of William’s receding hairline.

In case you missed it, here’s a summary of need-to-know pre-nuptial news:
1. You can place a bet on the likelihood of best man and rarely reliable brother Prince Harry forgetting the ring www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12999090 – current odds, 38 to 1.
2. Posh Spice, aka Victoria Beckham, might be designing Kate’s honeymoon dresses. http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/Article/TMG8321505/121/Could-Victoria-Beckham-be-Kate-Middletons-new-royal-dressmaker.html
3. The Bachelor Party is over, and, according to toe-the-royal-line proper-paper Telegraph www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/royal-wedding/8410193/Royal-wedding-Prince-William-slips-off-for-a-secret-country-stag.html, it was all top-secret and nobody knew about it. Except readers of hugely (albeit tragically) popular tabloid, The Sun, who saw this story on the day the “Secret Stag Do” took place: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/royal-wedding/8410193/Royal-wedding-Prince-William-slips-off-for-a-secret-country-stag.html
4. HRH’s air force colleagues are enjoying taking the mick (no direct UK-to-US phrase translation, but “teasing” comes close) www.express.co.uk/posts/view/238238/Prince-William-Hold-on-to-one-s-hat-gran- by serving Prince William cups of tea in “official” Royal Wedding souvenirs www.royalcollectionshop.co.uk/Official-Royal-Wedding-Merchandise/products/33/ they’ve bought.
At the wedding reception – officially called a Wedding Breakfast in the UK, despite the fact it almost never takes place in the morning – a chocolate-cookie cake www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/lifestyle/lifestyle-and-leisure/a_little_slice_of_royal_wedding_history_for_mcvitie_s_workers_1_3271555 will be served to guests as the recipe is a childhood favourite of Prince William’s. To put this into context, the company making it is the US equivalent of Nabisco. Not Very Regal.

Nuptial nuisances
Beyond the mind-numbing daily updates, the real issue for Londoners is the chaos.

And chaos it already is. My usual bike ride to work - past Buckingham Palace, around Parliament Square and beneath Big Ben - has been ruined. Well, marginally diverted, as part of it has already been sectioned off for Royal Wedding party tents. The roads from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey are being repaved, causing bus-route alterations. And the skies are thundering with helicopters and planes as security is stepped up and the Air Force practices its Wedding Day Ceremonial displays http://spitfiresite.com/2011/04/spitfire-in-the-press-2011-04-08.html.

OK, so it’s not really that chaotic. And as we’re all fleeing the country a week before the Big Day, it’s not likely to be an issue. So let’s throw ourselves into it and celebrate. After all, this does reduce the chances that Charles and Camilla will ever be monarchs! Hurray!

The Big Day
If you want to make your way here, there’s sure to be a festive vibe (even if most Londoners below the age of retirement have vamoosed). Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Royal Wedding Route. The couple will journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey (and back again – together this time) www.royalparks.gov.uk/royalweddingmap.aspx. If you want a good spot, prepare to elbow pensioners (aka Senior Citizens) out of the way, as the ever-aging royal groupie population will appear with flasks of tea and chairs the night before, staking their wizened claims to the best views.
2. Beyond the route, there will be heaps of Royal Wedding activities around the city. It seems that Prime Minister David Cameron’s hopes of hundreds of street parties, as happened on Charles and Diana’s Wedding Day www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12979666, are unlikely to pan out, but that doesn’t mean festivities will be sparse. Plenty of pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants and hotels are putting on their own wedding events, and giant screens will be erected in key places around the city so you can see the kiss up-close-and-semi-personal www.visitlondon.com/attractions/culture/royal-wedding.
Can’t make it to London? Never fear. Up and down the country – and even beyond – wedding events and goodies are popping up. From a Kiss Me Kate cocktail at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/press/rooftop-restaurant-april-celebrations.aspx to special Royal Wedding parties on NCL cruise line www.jetsettersblog.com/blog/2011/03/29/ncl-to-celebrate-royal-wedding-on-fleetwide-basis/.

Royal Wedding Souvenirs
But what to BUY is surely the most important issue. After all, the day will be over in the blink of (the world’s) eye, but those all-important souvenirs will last until the highest bidder gets them on eBay http://collectibles.shop.ebay.com/Collectibles-/Collectibles-/1/i.html?_nkw=royal+wedding .

The official Royal Wedding souvenirs www.royalcollectionshop.co.uk/Official-Royal-Wedding-Merchandise/products/33/ will look perfectly at home in your gran’s china cabinet, but if you don’t want to part with nearly 200 of your US dollars for the Official Royal Wedding Commemorative Loving Cup, don’t worry.

Every London street trader and shop owner is bring out their own “Royal Wedding” memorabilia.
• Grab OTT commemorative tea towels and “gold”-rimmed Royal Wedding plates from market stalls on Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus.
• Pick up Royal Wedding garden gnomes from home-supply store B&Q www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/17/b-and-q-royal-wedding-gnomes.
• Add a classy touch to your kitchen with the Will and Kate fridge www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/royalty/8404455/Quirky-Royal-Wedding-souvenirs.html. O
Opt for cheery kitchen accessories from fashionably floral Brit-chick Cath Kidston www.cathkidston.co.uk/c-990-royal-wedding.aspx.

As for me, I shall be clicking my Brit-heels www.irregularchoice.com/shop/womens/product/62/patty.html?offset=68), waving my Union Jack and scoffing cucumber sandwiches and Pimm’s (the ultimate British summer drink) while on safari in South Africa www.mantiscollection.com/, where the only royalty I hope to see is the king of the jungle.