Britain Gets Ready For Royal Wedding Revelry
Street parties, open-air screenings and hipster bars are all offering Britons a chance to join in celebrations of the Windsor Castle wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday.
Here are ways five ways in which Britons are celebrating — or bemoaning — the royal nuptials:
– Hen and stag –
A pre-wedding night out — known as a stag-do for the groom and a hen night for the bride — is a well-observed tradition in Britain, regardless of your nobility.
So while Harry celebrates with his brother and best man Prince William at a five-star hotel near Windsor, and bride-to-be Markle enjoys the comforts of a nearby country estate with her mother, London nightspots are encouraging partying in their honour.
In trendy east London, the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club will host a “royal” hen night promising to feature the staples of such occasions, including phallic symbols and cut-outs of Prince Harry.
In nearby Shoreditch, a venue housed in a pop-up mall of shipping containers will stage its own version of Harry’s stag-do.
It will feature royal wedding DJ hopeful Jevanni, who slipped the prince his business card during the couple’s visit to a radio station in Brixton, south London in the hope of snagging the coveted gig.
– Street parties –
England and Wales have a proud history of staging street parties, which started as “peace teas” following World War I as a treat for children in days of hardship, and have evolved into a tradition on national days of celebration.
Local authorities across the country have received hundreds of party applications, which allow roads to be shut and streets to be decked out with bunting.
Hotspots include Richmond in south-west London, which is hosting 93 parties over the wedding weekend.
Scots appear less enthused by the occasion, with just one reported street party taking place, in the remote town of Elgin near the North Sea coast.
– Boozy day –
Alcohol and British royal weddings appear to go hand-in-hand, and this year — which coincides with football’s FA Cup final — will likely be no exception.
In a bid to generate some enthusiasm for, and economic benefit from, the big day the government extended pub opening hours, with the industry set for a £10 million (11.4 million euros, $13.5 million) boost from celebrations.
Plenty of pubs are offering up proclaimed regal fare, from high tea to gin cocktails, and many are pairing English and US themes in honour of this Anglo-American union.
– Giant screens –
Organisers are staging viewing areas along the procession route in Windsor and elsewhere in the town, while churches and other groups are also planning to screen the nuptials in various villages, towns and cities.
Hundreds of people are expected in Kensington Gardens, just next to where the couple will live in Kensington Palace, at an open-air screening.
London’s National Maritime Museum, a historic building in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will also offer one of the most scenic spots to watch the ceremony, with a big screen on its lawns.
– Republican convention? –
For those who find the royal wedding does not sit well with their politics, anti-monarchy campaign group Republic are holding their annual convention — an alliance of European republican movements — on Saturday in London’s financial district.
Campaigners from Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden are expected, as well as British opposition lawmaker Emma Dent Coad, who represents the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea — where Prince Harry and Markle reside.