Thursday, April 28, 2011

London comes to a halt as wedding fever goes global By Jonathan Brown

 Up to two billion people around the world will watch today as a 29-year-old woman from Reading marries into the British Royal Family.

 Royal supporters Susanna Brockman, left, from Maryland, US, Chelsea Spence and Jessica Spence, right, from Zimbabwe show their T-shirts on the pavement near Westminster Abbey.

 Much of Britain is expected to grind to a halt as the nation enjoys another bank holiday, with many taking up position in front of their TV sets from 10am to savour a display of pageantry, pomp and circumstance not seen here since the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer 30 years ago.
 Kate Middleton will marry Prince William in a spectacular and extravagantly patriotic ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
 Although only 37 per cent of the populace counted themselves "genuinely interested and excited" about the wedding in a poll earlier this week, more than 5,000 street parties are planned for today, with many more impromptu celebrations likely, amid reports of a nationwide shortage of bunting.
 Thousands of well-wishers from all over the globe have slept for days on the pavements of Westminster, camping around the Abbey, where they hope to get a glimpse of the bride and groom.
 Weather forecasters have warned of possible thundery showers for the large crowds – up to a million – that have already lined the processional route and gathered outside Buckingham Palace to watch the couple's much-anticipated balcony appearance.
 A huge media presence, including anchors from all the US networks, has been in place for several days for the event, which will be broadcast live in the US, the Commonwealth and the rest of Europe. A major security operation has been under way for weeks to try to prevent any attempts to disrupt events. Yesterday Scotland Yard arrested 20 squatters in a string of raids.
 The bride will make the three-and-a-half minute procession up the aisle on her father's arm to the choral masterpiece, "I Was Glad", by Sir Hubert Parry, composed for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.
 Prince William, 28, will wear the red tunic of an Irish Guards officer and will place a slim gold band, made by royal warrant-holder Wartski, on to the finger of his bride. She in turn will follow a modern tradition set by William's mother Diana by promising to "love comfort, honour and keep" rather than "obey" her new husband.
 Prince William, like previous heirs, will not wear a ring. Kate's sister Pippa will act as bridesmaid and witness, while her brother James will make the only reading, from Romans 12: 1-2, 9-18, which begins: "I urge you therefore, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect."
 The newlyweds will leave the Abbey at the end of the 90-minute ceremony to the sounds of "Crown Imperial" by William Walton, which was also played at the Prince's parents' wedding.
 Ms Middleton spent her last day as a commoner taking part in a dress rehearsal and smiling for the media, which laid siege to the Goring Hotel where she was staying. Last night the Prince joined his father, the Duchess of Cornwall and brother and best man, Harry, at Clarence House.
 Later, the Queen will host a lunchtime reception for the couple, although neither she nor the Duke of Edinburgh will attend the evening's black tie reception where friends of the royal couple are expected to party into the night.

Watching and listening: an armchair wedding guest's guide

 Broadcast coverage of the wedding will be harder to avoid than to find. None the less, the following information may help you to plan your day.

Live coverage 8am-4pm; plus highlights at 8.30pm
 Coverage will be anchored by Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce and Sophie Raworth, with on-the-ground contributions from Fearne Cotton, Chris Hollins, Alex Jones, Jake Humphrey, Anita Rani and others.

Live coverage, 6am-4.05pm
 Early coverage by Adrian Chiles and Christine Brinkley gives way at 8.30 to Julie Etchingham and Phillip Schofield as anchors, with Alastair Stewart, Mary Nightingale and Mark Austen prominent at street level. The channel is reported to be forgoing £8m in advertising revenue in order to provide coverage uninterrupted by commercial breaks.

Sky News
Live coverage, 6am until late
 Eamonn Holmes is the main anchor; Kay Burley reports from Westminster Abbey; and political editor Adam Boulton is expected to buttonhole VIPs at the Abbey doors.

Radio 4
 Radio buffs may prefer to tune into Radio 4 (10am-1pm), where James Naughtie and Edward Stourton oversee the coverage. Stourton, sacked from Today for being too posh, will be the only reporter actually inside the Abbey.

Getting there...
 The thousands expected to descend on London will put pressure on public transport and roads, particularly in the centre of the capital. RMT general secretary Bob Crow warned it would be "travel lottery" as the capital struggled to cope. But the authorities insist that all guests and well-wishers will be able to arrive on time.

Car and bus
 Those who do venture into the capital by car will not have to pay the congestion charge, given that it is a bank holiday, but they are being urged to avoid central London, where a number of roads will be closed. Those out of action will include The Mall, The Strand, Whitehall, Victoria Street and Millbank. Buses will also be re-routed to avoid the closures.

 All Tube lines are open today with no engineering works taking place.

 Transport for London is encouraging visitors to make use of "Boris bikes".
 "We have thousands across London so they are catered for if they need it," a spokesman said.
 However docking stations in the immediate vicinity of the celebrations will be closed, so cyclists will need to plan ahead.

 About 400,000 people are expected to travel into central London by train, according to the Association of Train Operating Companies. There are no major line closures expected and bosses from all the major rail firms were keen to stress the service could cope.


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