I couldn’t care less about the royal wedding…
…but I do find it interesting from an anthropological point of view to have observed how London is preparing for tomorrow’s wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The first noticable shift that something big was going on began with the construction of platforms and other temporary structures for the press outside Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace (both of which I walk past fairly often, at least several times per week). They went up quickly, and now there are what look like permanent structures in those places (though I know they’ll disappear almost instantly after the wedding). This is what it looked like outside Buckingham Palace the other day:
That green building was not there a couple of weeks ago: usually, you can just see right into the grassy fields of Green Park.
A closer view:
More press, just setting up and, perhaps, rehearsing:
And around the backside:
Care has been taken to ensure that everyone knows that whatever damage has been done to the park by all the unusual activity will be repaired posthaste:
Indeed, there has been an attempt to minimize damage, as with these temporary walkways:
Some of the regular paved pathways have been blocked, and these sort of plasticy panels are protecting the grass from being worn away. These have been here for weeks now, but this is new, at an entrance on the far side, from the palace, to Green Park:
That big yellow thing and the black barriers with the narrow yellow stripes only went up in the last few days. I imagine it’s some sort of protector against a truck bomb driving through the black metal fence.
Not all the prep is so sinister, of course. Very festive bunting and flags started festooning the city over the past week. This is the famous Lamb & Flag pub in Covent Garden:
And this is Regent Street, a major shopping avenue:
Though there are also more practical harbingers of the millions who will descend on Central London tomorrow. These barriers were already lining the streets everywhere earlier this week:
(That’s the side of Buckingham Palace in the background. When I drove by in a taxi on Wednesday night, there were people camped out on the sidewalks in front of the palace, with little tents and camp chairs, to secure their viewing spot for the processional.)
Other signs? Workmen building something-or-other for the event got special vests:
A busy late night at Westminster Abbey (which is usually closed up tight and dark around the time I took this, 10:30 or so at night a week and a half ago):
Party goods on sale at a Marks & Spencer Food Hall, for your own royal wedding celebration:
And for the last few days, as foreign press has been arriving in town, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve run into a visiting camera crew and reporter — I think these guys were Dutch — filming themselves buying royal-wedding souvenirs:
This was yesterday in a convenience store near Buckingham Palace I stop in quite frequently to get a soda or a water, and the guy working there said this was the third crew that had been in that day. He seemed pretty delighted by all the attention.
(I’ve bought a ton of souvenirs to send to my sister-in-law Joanie back in New York, who’s really into the royal wedding. But I’ll share those with you after tomorrow, when I’m sure to add some more stuff to the collection.)
Overall, the mood in the city is one of excitement… if only for an excuse to have a big party and for the extra day off from work: the wedding day has been declared a bank holiday… and with this coming Monday the regular early May bank holiday, it means a four-day weekend for everyone.
(I stole this photo from Jeni Rodger at flickr.)
I’ll be spending tomorrow running around Central London, fighting the crowds and seeing what I can see. I’ll post some photos to Facebook and Twitter during the day, and if I get enough that’s interesting, I’ll post some here, too, on Saturday.
(That mug in the photo up top? Bought one for myself, of course. You can get yours at Sorry But…)
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