As the final preparations are put in place for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s "big day" on Friday, millions of Britons are rushing to airports, train stations and motorways to escape the country before royal wedding chaos takes over.
Many Britons have chosen to flee abroad to escape the impending peak of the royal wedding madness that has been sweeping the nation in progressive bouts of hysteria since the nuptial announced in mid-November last year.
More than a fifth of the country’s employees booked time off work to go away this week, according to a YouGov poll carried out for online travel retailer Lastminute.com. Some three million will be holidaying abroad on the royal wedding day itself, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).
As those most at risk of falling victim to general delirium, swathes of London’s local population plan to disappear from the capital before the hoards of doe-eyed Will and Kate fans pour in to catch a glimpse of the happy couple on Friday.
“There was no way we were staying in London,” says Antonia Bacon, a resident of Victoria in central London. “The police have outlined our area as a ‘contingency dispersal zone’, so we could have ended up being boxed into our own home if the crowds got too big.” Antonia is heading to Paris, one of the most popular destinations for Brits fleeing royal wedding fever, according to the low-coast airline easyJet.
ABTA says that Spain is the No. 1 escape destination, but Britons are also taking advantage of low-cost package deals to Egypt and Tunisia, which have seen prices drop sharply due to recent political unrest.
"It's usually a fairly quiet time of year,” Sean Tipton of ABTA told AFP. “But there is a big increase in the number of people travelling compared with the same period last year."
Online travel agent TravelRepublic says it has sold 60 percent more holidays than it did for the same period in April 2010.
Crazy to leave London?
Not everyone is leaving the country just to avoid the royal wedding. Back-to-back holiday weekends mean that many people are simply taking advantage of the time off of work, and will watch the nuptials from their holiday destinations on TV.
And lest we forget, there are also many Londoners who are staying in the capital precisely because of the wedding. "I’m confused as to where else you’d want to be,” mused UK travel editor Tom Hall on the Lonely Planet blog. “All over the city there’ll be street parties and a jovial mood. In years to come you’ll be glad you [stayed].”
EasyJet’s busiest flights out of Britain in the days prior to the royal wedding:
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
His colleague, Heather Carswell, was not convinced. “Jostling for space amongst hundreds of thousands of well-wishers in central London is as close to this wedding as us ordinary folk can get … My advice would be to get out of London and you will have a royally good time.”
That’s exactly what Antonia has been planning to do, ever since the wedding was announced. “Leaving was the first thought I had,” she says. “If we stayed in London we wouldn’t have been able to do anything not wedding-related. Even going to the local pub would have meant battling through a load of tourists.”
Along with 45 percent of her compatriots, she is not planning to watch the wedding on TV. “We’ve seen it all already,” she says. “I understand it’s a big occasion, but it’s a big occasion for them, not me. I’ll have a good time in Paris with my friends; they can have a good time in London with theirs.”
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