Tent city tea party awaits Wills and Kate

27th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The atmosphere outside London's Westminster Abbey resembled a good old English tea party on Wednesday as royal wedding fanatics camping on the streets let the excitement flow.

With a tent city sprouting up across the street from the wedding venue despite the 48-hour wait until Friday's wedding, Her Majesty's most diehard subjects did what Britons do best and turned adversity into a knees-up.

All the ingredients for a British summer party were in evidence -- flasks of tea, newspaper crosswords, cheese sandwiches, civility, Englishmen roasting in the midday sun, and a jolly spirit in the air.

Christopher Farrow, 50, was propping himself up on the barricade, wearing a William and Kate tea towel and a Union flag round his waist, with two flags on sticks tucked into his waistband.

"I can't wait. This is what makes Britain great. Because of people like us camping out, everybody else wants to get involved," said the unemployed man from Nottingham in central England.

"There will be billions of people watching -- and I will be seeing it with my own eyes.

"I'm going to go absolutely mad -- cheer, shout and wave my flags."

One happy camper returned from a food sortie with a pile of pizzas and cheerfully passed them along the line.

One man at the edge of the 20-strong line of tents was dressed in smart brown shoes, navy suit trousers and a black blazer.

Lying by the kerb, the silver-haired gent was fast asleep under his coat as red London buses groaned past.

Cynthia Fisher, 69, a retired woman from Sheffield in northern England, sat wearing a glittery Union flag bowler hat.

"I have just done a month in China travelling through Tibet, so this is a piece of cake," she said of the prospect of sleeping on the pavement.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. It's our capital, our prince, we're British through and through. Everyone's happy and I'm full of beans!"

Over at Buckingham Palace, thousands of tourists from across the globe soaked up the scene and posed for pictures at the gates.

American tourists Olivia Wofford, 22, and her mother Christine, 58, were outside the palace brandishing giant yellow W and K signs topped off with the Stars and Stripes.

From Canton in Michigan, they flew over especially for the wedding.

"I've been waiting for this day since William was born. It's really exciting!" Christine said.

"I want to see the carriage, the dress and hear the bells ring.

"These moments are very rare, and to be here and be part of it is great."

William's late mother Diana, princess of Wales "would have been very pleased, and she's watching from above. Because of her, William is who he is," she said, adding: "If the royal family are mean to Kate like they were to Diana, her parents won't take it.

"And when my daughter marries Prince Harry, I'm not going to take it!" she joked.

Back at the abbey, Bernadette Christie, 57, a company director from Grande Prairie in Alberta, western Canada, has decked her tent out with the city flag and the Maple Leaf.

She got her ticket to London as a Christmas present.

"I wanted to see it first hand, front-row seat. Made my mind up the second it was announced," she said.

"When Britain puts on a party, there's nothing like it. The pomp and the splendour is beyond anywhere in the world, and that's obvious because the whole world's watching."

"I can look out of my tent window straight across. I'll be crying the whole time. It's going to be totally a milestone in my life.

"The only danger is, will I be still awake?"

© 2011 AFP

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