4:16pm

Thu April 28, 2011
William And Kate: The Royal Wedding

In London, Wedding Waiting Enters Its Final Hours

Originally published on Thu April 28, 2011 5:00 pm

After five months of planning and anticipation, it's showtime in London.

The wedding ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton Friday morning at Westminster Abbey has a guest list of around 2,000 people — including friends of the bride and groom, members of the royal family and members of other countries' royal families.

After the vows, the bride and groom will ride to Buckingham Palace in the same gold carriage the late Princess Diana used 30 years ago. Swarms of people have descended on London for the nuptials.

The British papers are obsessed with gossipy details on an average day. The day before a royal wedding? They've gone a bit mad.

From The Telegraph alone, readers learn that in the run-up to the wedding:

-- Prince William "played five-a-side football in Battersea Park, south London, wearing a thrown-together kit of mismatched socks, shorts and T-shirt."

-- Middleton, meanwhile, was spotted unloading a cardboard box from her car. "Photographers saw a sheaf of papers on the back seat, which included the passage, 'With so much love within our hearts,' leading to speculation it may be part of the service."

-- And, overall, the couple "adopted a distinctly low-key approach to their preparations."

But while the bride and the groom may be trying to take a low-key approach to the whole thing, London is anything but low key.

'It's History'

In the shadow of Big Ben, people are streaming by Westminster Abbey, trying to get a close-up look before the surrounding streets close Thursday night — and before the crowds get too thick to see much of anything.

Jeanne Lord has talked her husband, Harry, into a trip to London from their home in New Jersey.

"It's history," she says. "I think that's what a lot of the fascination is all over the world — history, seeing a future king and queen and the present queen. We'll never be able to do it again in our lifetime."

Harry Lord was decked out in a leather cowboy hat and a Harrah's Casino windbreaker. Rain is forecast for Friday, but the Lords are not worried — even though they're not exactly on the official guest list.

"We have an invitation to stand on the street like the rest of the commoners," Jeanne says, laughing.

"Even though our family name is Lord, we're not lords," Harry adds. "Maybe ... I could have gone as Lord Harry, instead of Harry Lord."

People like the Lords, who have traveled miles for a wedding they won't even see, have a lot of explaining to do at home. The Lords said their kids were mystified.

"They think we're utterly insane," Jeanne says.

And their answer? "We are," she says.

Her husband echoes that sentiment. "I spent more on this wedding than I did my own," Harry says. "We've been married 55 years, so weddings were cheaper then, but ..."

How much did they spend on their own wedding?

"About $400," he says. "Max," his wife adds.

Friday's wedding is sure to cost in the millions of dollars.

Getting The 'Atmosphere'

British citizens, for their part, seem less than excited. One poll last week found 70 percent put themselves in one of two categories: "indifferent" about the wedding or "couldn't care less."

But Maureen Gearing is excited. All the nostalgia from the royal wedding of 1981 is coming back.

"I came up when Charles and Diana got married, and I wanted the atmosphere. So I've come up to see the son, see. Get the atmosphere again!" she says.

She drove in from a suburb west of London with her friend, Jackie Howard. They plan to meander around the wedding route, have a glass of wine and a meal and then --

"Get the train home," Gearing says.

They're not planning to stay for the big show. "My poor old bones wouldn't take laying on the pavements anymore," Gearing says. "Don't forget it was 30 years ago when they got married. I was a lot younger."

The women said they would be in a living room on Friday, watching every development on the telly.

"Few coffees, lots to eat, lots to drink," Gearing says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

After five months of anticipation, it's show time in London. Prince William and Kate Middleton are scheduled to get married tomorrow morning, and it's a big wedding by any standard. Around 2,000 guests will sit primly at Westminster Abbey for the ceremony. Then, the bride and groom will ride to Buckingham Palace in the same gold carriage the late Princess Diana used 30 years ago.

And then there are the many, many more people who have swarmed into London for the event, including NPR's David Greene.

DAVID GREENE: The British papers are obsessed with gossipy details on an average day. The day before a royal wedding, they've gone a bit mad.

My colleague, Katie Bilboa, will read a few tidbits from today's Daily Telegraph. How is William getting ready for the big day?

KATIE BILBOA: The prince played five-a-side football in Battersea Park, south London, wearing a thrown-together kit of mismatched socks, shorts and T-shirt.

GREENE: As for the bride?

BILBOA: Miss Middleton was spotted unloading a cardboard box from her car. Photographers spotted a sheaf of papers on the back seat, which included the passage, with so much love within our hearts, leading to speculation it may be part of the service.

GREENE: Overall, the Telegraph reported that the couple...

BILBOA: Adopted a distinctly low-key approach to their preparations.

GREENE: If the bride and the groom are trying to take a low-key approach to this whole thing, London is anything but low key. I'm standing right in the shadow of Big Ben, in front of Westminster Abbey. Parliament Square is in front of me and it's surrounded by bright, clean Union Jacks, the British flag. People are streaming by Westminster Abbey trying to get a close-up look because tonight these roads will all be closed and tomorrow most people will be stuffed into crowds where it's going to be difficult to get a close-up look at anything.

Ms. JEANNE LORD: It's history, actually. I think that's what a lot of the fascination is all over the world - history, seeing a future king and queen and the present queen. We'll never be able to do it again in our lifetime.

GREENE: This is Jeanne Lord, who talked her husband, Harry, into a trip to London. The couple is from New Jersey. Harry was decked out in a leather cowboy hat and his Harrah's Casino windbreaker. Rain is forecast for tomorrow. The Lords are not worried.

You said you're coming to the wedding, but I assume you don't have an official invitation.

Ms. LORD: Oh yeah. Yeah, we have an invitation to stand on the street like the rest of the commoners.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: Yeah, how about that? How'd you get that?

Mr. LORD: Even though our family name is Lord, we're not lords.

GREENE: That might've gotten you in.

Mr. LORD: Maybe I could have gone as Lord Harry, instead of Harry Lord.

GREENE: People like the Lords, who have traveled miles for a wedding they won't even see have a lot of explaining to do at home. The Lords said their kids were mystified.

Ms. LORD: They think we're utterly insane.

GREENE: And your answer to them is?

Ms. LORD: We are.

Mr. LORD: We are. I spent more on this wedding than I did my own.

GREENE: Have you told your wife that?

Mr. LORD: Yeah, well, she knows that. We've been married 55 years, so weddings were cheaper then.

GREENE: How much did you spend on your wedding?

Mr. LORD: About $400.

Ms. LORD: Max.

GREENE: Tomorrow's wedding is sure to cost in the millions of dollars. And British citizens, for their part, seem less than excited. One poll last week found 70 percent put themselves in one of two categories: indifferent about the wedding or couldn't care less.

But Maureen Gearing is excited. All the nostalgia from the royal wedding of 1981 is coming back.

Ms. MAUREEN GEARING: I came up when Charles and Diana got married, and I wanted the atmosphere. So I've come up to see the son, see, get the atmosphere again.

GREENE: She drove in from a suburb west of London with her friend, Jackie Howard.

Ms. GEARING: We've only just arrived.

Ms. JACKIE HOWARD: We've only just arrived.

Ms. GEARING: We tend to meander.

GREENE: Meander.

Ms. GEARING: Yeah. Which means to go slow.

Ms. HOWARD: Slow.

GREENE: Where are you going to meander? What's your meandering route?

Ms. GEARING: All over the place.

GREENE: OK.

Ms. GEARING: Yes. We're going to the route. We're going to see the route, aren't we?

Ms. HOWARD: Yeah. Walk it all around.

Ms. GEARING: All around the route, which is what we do. And then we'll meander down to the river, have a glass of wine, have a meal.

Ms. HOWARD: Then get the train home.

Ms. GEARING: Then get the train home.

GREENE: So you're not going to stay here for the big show?

Ms. GEARING: No. My poor old bones wouldn't take laying on the pavement anymore.

GREENE: Oh.

Ms. GEARING: Don't forget, it was 30 years ago when they got married. I was a lot younger.

GREENE: The women said they'd be in a living room tomorrow watching every single development on the tellie.

Ms. GEARING: Few coffees, lots to eat, lots to drink.

GREENE: David Greene, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.