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What do Londoners make of the royal wedding?

Text by Katherine THOMPSON , in London

Latest update : 2011-11-16

The streets of London are packed with tourists and visitors from around the UK all looking to take part in the "Wedding of the Century". But how do Londoners feel about their capital being turned into royal wedding central?

As the Eurostar from Paris emerged from the Channel tunnel, the driver of the train announced, "Welcome to the United Kingdom, where the country is preparing for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. We would like to offer our best wishes to the couple!"

Crawling through London traffic in a black cab, a talk show blasting from the radio discussed – you guessed it – the royal wedding in excruciating detail. It seems the entire United Kingdom was caught up in royal wedding fever.

But are Londoners as enthused?

Undoubtedly, as one walks the streets of the capital, reminders of the imminent nuptials are everywhere. There is hardly a shop window without a Union Jack flag or some kind of marketing ploy with a royal wedding twist, and everywhere you look bunting is swinging jauntily in the breeze.

London has never looked quite like this before. The splashy displays that the royal wedding has engendered have outstripped even the Christmas holidays, when Londoners traditionally fling themselves with abandon into dressing up the city.

Bunting sales soar

It was reported in London's free daily newspaper, Metro, on Thursday that bunting sales on eBay have soared 168% in the United Kingdom, with the site reportedly selling a Union Jack product every two minutes.

Londoners are generally a cynical bunch, and it takes a lot to shake them out of their urban scepticism. But perhaps being given the extra day off work for the wedding combined with the undeniable feel-good factor reverberating around the city is rubbing off on them.

Central London in lockdown for wedding
Map of the areas in central London which will be closed to traffic on April 29. Image released by the Metropolitan Police.

Sam Rowe, who works in a flag-and-bunting-draped pub in the heart of London's Soho on Wardour Street, admitted that he was “secretly really enjoying it”. Sam went on to say that he liked “the sense of continuity and history” that the royal family provides, but as a left-winger admits to this only reluctantly.

Enjoying a pint in the evening sunshine outside the De Hens pub on the outskirts of London's Chinatown, Will Dibble said he thinks the royal wedding has “brought the country together” and that it is nice to see the bunting and flags everywhere. But he added that he will not be watching the event because has better things to do.

A few nay-sayers can also be found. Dev, who works at a fruit and vegetable stall in Berwick Street in central London, stated firmly that he “couldn't care less” and that the whole thing has been “overhyped”.

Raju, a distributor for the London Evening Standard (the capital's free evening newspaper) at Clapham Common, was happy to pose for a photo, but answered with a simple and to-the-point “No” when asked if he had any interest in the royal wedding.

It appears that some Londoners are already suffering from royal wedding fatigue. But I suspect that, secretly, they are enjoying the royal wedding hoopla. Londoners would no longer be Londoners if they openly flung themselves into the proceedings – it would be against their cynical natures. But even the famously reserved British cannot completely hide the guilty pleasure they are taking in the country’s royal revival.



Date created : 2011-04-28


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