This guest column is by Elizabeth Edwards, a junior English major at St. Lawrence University who is studying in London this semester.
Here in London the anticipation for Friday’s royal wedding has become cult-like. And I have to confess that I've succumbed: I recently took a quiz to see if I'm more of a Prince Harry girl or a Prince William girl.
There is a manic obsession with the princes — and some girls apparently wait for hours outside exclusive clubs or private residences that the princes are rumored to frequent.
That obsession extends to William’s bride-to-be, Kate Middleton. Everyone wants to imitate Kate's style and her haircut. The newspapers critique her outfits, her body shape and her commoner family.
The big question here (as it is on the other side of the pond): What will Kate’s dress look like? I have read several articles about different possible designers, and everyone is eagerly speculating.
Images of the couple are everywhere you look. Newspapers published baby photos of Wills and Kate. Spas advertise "royal" treatments, and street vendors sell memorabilia with the couple's faces like cups, plates, flags, coins, tea towels and, even, designer cupcakes.
People have begun to plan Royal Wedding barbecue parties with their friends, and the tourism industry’s hotels and restaurants are hoping for a massive boom in business. But at the same time, there is some angst about the threat of anti-monarchy activists and outrage at the amount of precious tax money going toward providing effective security measures.
This is the first big wedding since Diana and Charles wed in 1981. Since then, technology has become much more sophisticated — you can even get wedding updates sent to your iPad and there will be live streaming video of the ceremony.
I pulled a 32-page Royal Wedding Program out of The Times the other day, and I was surprised that the couple did not include President Obama on their guest list, reportedly because he’s not a royal.
This semester abroad has truly taught me how different the class system is in Britain. In the United States, social mobility is more possible. Here, a person is born into a certain class and essentially remains there, even if that person ends up making a lot more money or losing a great deal of money.
Kate's non-royal family has been an object of intense public scrutiny. Many traditionalists are scorning her lineage, while other citizens are rejoicing at this slight upset to the social system.
The Brits are certainly excited, but it will be interesting to see if the locals are out-numbered by foreigners in attendance at the wedding. All of the St. Lawrence students have been placed at internships for the last month of the semester, and we have been asking around our workplaces about the wedding. The general consensus of British people seems to excitement for the bank holiday, which everyone is granted because of the wedding.
Last weekend was Easter, so we had Friday and Monday off. Now we will have this Friday off for the wedding. Therefore, many London professionals are capitalizing on this opportunity to travel, adding a few days of vacation time to score a 10-day holiday. I’m guessing they will still watch the wedding coverage.
As for my Friday plans, my friends and I will get up in the wee hours of the morning so we can situate ourselves along the procession path, which runs from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, before the roads close at 6 a.m. We are hoping to nab a spot close enough to Buckingham Palace that we can see the couple share a kiss.
Afterward, we will probably meet up with more friends to watch the coverage on television at someone’s house or in a restaurant or pub. Rumor has it that some pubs will charge admission to come inside and watch. Some may even require advance tickets.
Outside, people will likely throw parties on their lawns and in the streets. I imagine the roads will be just teeming with people. All of London will be alive.
I guess I picked the right semester to be here.
About today’s guest blogger:
Elizabeth Edwards is a junior English major at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. She is from Lake Placid, N.Y., and has been studying in London for the past four months with 20 other St. Lawrence students.