Britain gears up for huge royal wedding celebrations

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From campsites springing up in central London to wild parties being held in normally sleepy villages, Britain is braced for a flood of festivities to celebrate Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.

Hundreds of thousands of revellers, from Britain and abroad, are expected in London alone for the most important royal wedding since Prince Charles and Princess Diana married in 1981.

Susan Fleisher, 64, plans to head to The Mall, a road on the route of the wedding procession, from her north London home early on Friday to experience the celebrations and watch the Westminster Abbey ceremony on a big screen.

"I got up at 4:00 am to watch the last wedding (of Charles and Diana) and I don't want to miss the next generation," she said.

"It is to share the joy of the moment because there is not enough joy in the world," she added.

"It is amazing how much it is all on our minds even though we all have our own very busy lives."

Fleisher, who is originally from the US but has lived for more than 20 years in Britain, attended Diana's funeral in 1997 after her death in a Paris car crash and said she would be thinking of the late princess as William got married.

"As an older person, I think that Diana is very much in my consciousness," she said.

Arlene Prinsloo, a 45-year-old South African, is heading to London especially for the wedding and plans to camp out in the street the night before the ceremony.

"I have planned this trip for a long time. I bought my ticket after the announcement of the wedding. I have been very excited for a while," she said.

"I am planning to sleep in the street to get the best spot in front of Buckingham Palace to be able to see William."

She added: "I want to see Diana's sons [Princes William and Harry]. I admired her a lot. I came to London for her funeral. After all these years, I am still obsessed with her."

Pub landlord Andrew Southerden is organising a street party in the picturesque central English village of Kibworth, which will be attended by more than 500 people with some 70 tables put out for the celebration.

Flags and bunting will brighten up the streets and the villagers will party late into the night to music provided by a soul band, DJ and gospel choir.

"I put a notice board outside the pub, it totally surprised everybody, every table went within four days," he said.

"I think there has been a certain amount of apathy about it all. I don't think that is just the royal wedding, I think that is the general climate.

"But most of the people I know that have organised stuff... have had quite a good response to it."

He added: "From my point of view, yes it is about having a good day at the till, but it is also about being in a position to be able to create something for the community. I think that is really important."

Ben Baxter, a 30-year-old pilot, is living proof that the younger generation are also enthusiastic about the royal wedding.

Far from jetting off to escape the nuptials, he will be attending a street party in Chiswick, west London, and hopes the event will bring local people together.

"It will be a great opportunity to meet some of the people in our area," he said.

"It will definitely improve community spirit, and it is a good occasion for us to celebrate after the recession."

© 2011 AFP

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