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Video: Is London ready for Will and Kate’s big day?

  1. Transcript of: Is London ready for Will and Kate’s big day?

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Back at 8:44 as we count down to the royal wedding . We are now just one month away, so what can you expect if you are heading to London for that very big day ? Celia Walden is an NBC contributor and columnist for the Daily Telegraph , Kate Maxwell is the articles editor at Conde Nast Traveler , Simon Talling-Smith is from British Airways . And we should mention that British Airways is sponsoring our ROYAL TREATMENT contest. Good morning to you all.

    Ms. KATE MAXWELL: Good morning.

    Mr. SIMON TALLING-SMITH (British Airways): Good morning.

    VIEIRA: So as we said, a month away from this. This will probably be the global event of the year, most likely. Is England ready, is London ready?

    Ms. MAXWELL: Absolutely. I mean, it's just going to be such a festive occasion. There's going to be, you know, bunting everywhere, Union Jacks everywhere. The statues around Westminster are being polished especially for the occasion. It's really exciting for London , I think.

    VIEIRA: You know, when I was there a couple of weeks ago -- Celia , I'll direct this at you -- some people said, 'You know, you Americans are making more of this than we are over here.' Are the -- are the Brits starting to get excited, Celia ?

    Ms. CELIA WALDEN (Columnist, Daily Telegraph): Yes. Yeah, I think they are. I think that we were quite cynical. We have a tendency to be quite cynical to begin with. But actually, everyone really likes William and Kate . You know, there's nothing not to like there. And so gradually even the most cynical of us are kind of thinking, 'Well, actually, this is going to be quite a good day.' Plus, those who don't want to be here, because of the bank holidays can get 11 days off for the price of three, which is perfect.

    VIEIRA: So everybody's happy, no matter what.

    Ms. WALDEN: Exactly.

    VIEIRA: I understand that some Londoners are considering renting out their places. There's one real estate Web site that said one in four folks in London are considering that. Is that surprising to you? Or do you know anyone who's renting out their home?

    Ms. MAXWELL: I do know a -- I have got a couple of friends in London actually who are doing that. It's something that Londoners do for big occasions like Wimbledon . There's a great site called londonrentmyhouse.com that you can go on and find anything from a bedroom to an entire London town house. And airbnb.com also is another great site to check.

    VIEIRA: Is another great place. And if you -- if you go to London and you want to get around, I would imagine that cabs are pretty expensive. Best way to go would be public transportation, do you think?

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: Yeah. I mean, a cab's an experience everyone should have when they go to London , just to talk to the cabbie. I mean, these are the guys that know everything about London . But I would also say if you're visiting London , go on the Underground , go on the Tube , talk to Londoners , because this is going to be a day when London is opened up. You know, we Brits, we're known for being a bit reserved. And you're going to see us let our hair down on the 29th.

    VIEIRA: That's good to know.

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: Right.

    VIEIRA: I've heard there are going to be a lot of parties everywhere on that day, so if you can't get to the actual site you can sort of crash a party somewhere else in the city?

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: There'll be parties everywhere. And I would always advise anyone going to London on that day is just go to a pub. There -- every pub in London , and there are a lot of pubs in London , will be having a great party.

    VIEIRA: Yeah...

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: And that's the way to soak up the atmosphere.

    VIEIRA: OK. Celia , let me bring you in for a minute. We're talking about the big day itself. We know that Kate is arrival by Rolls Royce that morning from Buckingham Palace . She's going to travel from Buckingham to Westminster , and then she'll leave in a carriage. Obviously, people would love to be along that parade route. Where's the best place to be if you can be?

    Ms. WALDEN: I think it's madness really to expect to be along the parade route because, don't forget there are going to be two million people along one and a half miles. So it's going to be unbelievably cramped. My advice is to go high. Find places like the Park Lane Hotel , where you can go to the restaurant on the top and have a nice meal for kind of 50 or $70 and be able to watch the whole thing from relative comfort.

    VIEIRA: Would you recommend that people stay outside the city, do you think, Kate , and commute in, rather than staying in the city?

    Ms. MAXWELL: Yeah. I mean, if money's no object, obviously, you know, stay as centrally as you can. But if it is, then stay an hour outside the city in a county like Berkshire , where Kate Middleton 's parents live, or Surrey or Kent , and then you get a bit of English countryside as well and take the train in in the morning.

    VIEIRA: OK. Simon , you obviously know, being in the airline industry, so much about security. Do we expect that there will be a lot along the parade route? We're not going to have the machines that people have to go through, metal detectors, I would assume not, but...

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: No, not at all. I mean, security, of course, will be very well thought through. But I think we should think of this as a great day of celebration and as a party. And the emphasis will be on people enjoying themselves no matter where they've come from in the world.

    VIEIRA: And if you're still there over the weekend there's plenty to do, so stay put.

    Ms. MAXWELL: Absolutely.

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: Right.

    VIEIRA: All right, Kate thank you so much . Simon as well, and Celia .

Alastair Grant  /  AP
Ellie Phillips, of London's Jealous Gallery, holds up a specially commissioned airline style sick bag for people who have had too much of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.
updated 3/29/2011 11:43:11 AM ET 2011-03-29T15:43:11

There's still a month to go until the royal wedding and yet some Britons are already asking: Is it over yet?

While millions around the world are following every detail of the wedding planning — the guest list, the cake, the carriage, the dress — others are desperately trying to tune it out.

"I'm tired of hearing all about it," said Andreas Dopner, 24, a postgraduate researcher at London's Imperial College. "You see it on television, the Internet, everywhere. I don't believe in having a royal family and I think the money could be spent better elsewhere."

For many British businesses, the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is good news.

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International interest in the nuptials and the predicted pro-Britannia "feel-good factor" will bring in extra tourists, giving a boost to hotels, restaurants, shops and royal-related tourist attractions.

But there also will be an exodus, with several million Britons heading abroad, thanks to the lucky timing of the wedding day — a holiday for most — between the Easter weekend and the May Day public holiday.

Video: Is London ready for Will and Kate’s big day? (on this page)

Clever employees quickly calculated they could get an 11-day break by taking only three days off work.

"I've booked it myself for that very reason," said Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents, which has seen a surge in overseas bookings for the wedding period.

Those still in Britain on April 29 will find central London bedecked with Union Jacks, tens of thousands gathering along the wedding procession route, millions watching on TV — and millions more trying to ignore it.

Generation gap
"It tends to be kind of an older-generation event," said London student William Dobson, 19. "Young people are much more interested in having a good weekend rather than seeing the wedding."

Even for the uninterested, the wedding may be hard to avoid. But for those determined to do so, alternatives are available.

A Welsh Nationalist group, unimpressed with English royal excess, is holding an "Escape The Wedding Camp" in the countryside for those who really want to get away from it all.

A theater company in northeast England is staging a reading of "Cinderella 2," the story of a fairytale romance gone sour.

In southwest England, Bristol's Trinity community arts center is holding an Alternative Royal Wedding Party featuring children's games, DJs and a fake-wedding service allowing guests to get hitched to a friend or a stranger.

Center manager Emma Harvey said the royal wedding was not uppermost in the minds of residents of the ethnically diverse, economically deprived area.

"It's not necessarily a massive thing on people's radar," she said. "There is a sense that it is quite a decadent occasion."

Others wish Kate and William well, but are sick of the commercialization and the hype surrounding the wedding.

No detail, it seems, is too small to be celebrated — the palace released video of cakes being made for the wedding, one of which is a fruit cake that gets better with age.

Windows of gift shops across the land too are packed with mugs, plates, key chains and ashtrays, some of it downright tacky.

One London art gallery has retaliated with a display of Kate-and-William sick bags, designed by artist Lydia Leith and screen printed with images of the happy couple in regal purple and gold.

'Tacky' merchandise
Ellie Phillips, who helps run the Jealous Gallery, said it had sold dozens of the bags, intended as a comment on "the whole tacky merchandise" side of the wedding.

"We're not anti the event itself," she said. "It's a nice happy thing that brings lots of people together. It's just the way it's been so rapidly commercialized and turned into an opportunity to turn out so many poorly made, cheap, tacky things."

Royal wedding apathy is music to the ears of Republic, a group that has campaigned for years to persuade Britons to scrap the monarchy.

It senses a change in the air, and hopes thousands will attend an irreverent "Not the Royal Wedding" street party in central London on April 29.

Republic spokesman Graham Smith said deference for the monarchy has withered since Queen Elizabeth II took the throne almost six decades ago, and since a rapt nation watched Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981. That union produced princes William and Harry but ended in an embarrassing, acrimonious divorce.

"I think people are responding with a giant shrug," Smith said. "This is not 1981, it's not 1952. It's 2011 and people have better things to worry about."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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