Wedding security forces lights out
21 May 2004
MADRID – High security surrounding the Royal Wedding has forced authorities to take down the spectacular light display in Madrid, the city council said Friday.
Crown Prince Felipe is to marry his fiancée Letizia Ortiz Saturday in one of the biggest Royal weddings in Europe for decades.
The Spanish Royal family, the country’s political establishment, most crowned heads of Europe and heads of state will be among the 1,400 people attending.
But in the wake of the 11 March bomb attacks, security in the capital will be at a maximum.
At least 18,000 police, specialist marksmen, aerial patrols and a Nato Awacs spy plane are to be deployed to stop any potential terrorist attack.
Each day this week, at least 300,000 ‘madrileños’ and tourists have flocked to the capital to see the spectacular light show along the wedding route, as well as other preparations.
The deputy mayor of Madrid, Manuel Cobo, said: “Tonight we are not going to have the illuminations because we have been asked by the security services.”
Cobo explained that the finishing touches were being prepared for security arrangements for the wedding.
He added that security services said having so many people in the streets just before the ceremony could present problems if potential terrorists wanted to plant bombs near the route of the wedding parade.
Fifty people had also suffered minor injuries this week, further stretching police and medical resources just before the big day.
“Having so many hundreds of thousands of people in the street like last night is something that we could not have, not only because of the security problems but because of the preparations of the decorations and television facilities,” said Cobo.
“It is a shame because we are delighted to see so many people enjoying themselves.”
The route from the Cathedral Almudena, where the couple will marry, to the Royal Palace is being decorated with huge floral tributes, giant versions of works by famous Spanish artists like Velásquez and Goya.
Near Atocha railway station, scene of one of the bombings, there will be a floral tribute called the ‘wood of the missing’.
The terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 192 people and left more than 1,500 injured.
Letizia and Felipe finished their last rehearsals for the wedding Thursday.
Royalty and politicians were arriving in Madrid from all over the world Friday.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news