I'm a sucker for romance, and that's one lovely ceremony we're watching over in London, isn't it?
I don't think I've ever seen the city look finer; all those waving flags and folks singing "Jerusalem" and the parade with the Duke and Duchess, newly married, streaming past the Houses of Parliament and all. It's great advertising for the British "brand," if you like, and maybe that'll ease some concerns from folks in Britain who don't like the price tag for the public purse.
Anyway, it's great stuff. And they're lapping it up all over the world, including Paris, as Star Travel guy Adrian Brijbassi reports...
You’d think Paris would be the one place in the world that would look at the Royal Wedding and shrug. You don’t see any large union jacks on display today, wedding gowns streaming down Ave. Winston Churchill or Will and Kate doubles lining Ave. George V. Pockets of excitement can be found in the City of Light, though.
A lot of aaahs could be heard from inside the Frog & Rosbif when Kate said “I will” to her prince. The decidedly female crowd gathered at this British pub near the Marais. Lineups began before the doors opened at 11 a.m. local time and more than 150 crowded in by the time Kate and William met at the altar about an hour later.
Rob Sutton said he was missing the street parties in London, where he lives. He’s visiting Paris for the weekend and thinks the nuptials will reinvigorate interest in the royals, because of the likeability of the couple. “The two big things are the coronation and the wedding. You don’t miss those,” he said, pointing out that a boom in TV sales occurred in Britain when Queen Elizabeth II was officially crowned in 1953.
Still, Sutton was a bit chagrined to be at a bar holding a pint watching bouquets stream by.
“I think if you’d ask the blokes in the bar, we’d all wonder what the hell we’re doing here,” he said, laughing. “It’s a wedding, it’s a girls’ thing.”
It’s also big business. Patricia Yates, VisitBritain’s director of strategy and communications, said on Sky TV on Thursday night that she expects 2 billion people around the world to watch the ceremony and thinks the attention will generate billions in tourism revenue. “We’ll see an additional 4 million people over the next four years visit the country,” she said.
At the Frog & Rosbif, cheers arose when the big names showed up — the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the couple themselves, of course. And there were big cheers for Elton John when he was flashed on the broadcast. Some hands went up, from tiara-decked women, when Westminster Abbey — and the world, really — was asked if anyone objected to the marriage.
Torontonian Mel Dark, who’s been visiting Paris for weeks, said many people she’s run into in the city have been talking about the wedding. Briton Justin Steed, though, joked that Paris may not be so into the wedding as other places because “The French just don’t have this, do they?”
They were whooping it up this morning at Le Meridien King Edward in Toronto, where it was being shown, and out in Victoria, B.C., where folks were up at 3 a.m. to watch the start of the ceremony. Star columnist Bert Archer files this report...
Four hundred groggy well-wishers gathered in the Tea Room and Bengal Lounge of Victoria’s Empress Hotel very early Friday morning to eat beans, eggs and kippers in their bathrobes, pyjamas and fascinators and watch Kate Middleton become Princess Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and the latest Mrs. Windsor.
“This is the first wedding I’ve attended in a robe,” says Alisa Muntz, 31, who came up from Seattle with her friend, Eliza Schuster, 23, to watch the wedding in Canada’s monarchist capital. It’s not her first wedding at the Empress, though. She had her own wedding here in 2005.
“She’s just so classic,” Schuster says, eyes fixed on one of 12 screen beaming the beaming princess into the three rooms set up for the breakfast festivities.
Tickets for the breakfast affair went on sale in February, and sold out so quickly that they added rooms and screens to meet the demand from tourists and locals.
Angela Rafuse-Tahir, director of sales and marketing for the hotel, who was up at 1 a.m. to make sure everything went smoothly, figures about a third of the guests were also guests of the hotel; the other two thirds were locals who paid $39 a pop to nibble on roasted tomatoes and watch the wedding, exactly the sort of people who make Victoria, and the Fairmont Empress in particular, Canada’s royal ground zero.
Meryl Howard, 78, and her friend of 40 years Sylvia Keith, 70, were two of them.
“I’ve taped two of the broadcasts,” says Keith, who moved to Canada from England when she was 25 but still speaks with a hearty southern British accent. “CBC and CNN, and I’m going to watch the whole thing over again, twice.”
The Empress was also the site of Canada Post’s debut of the official William and Kate stamp, which was selling briskly, even at 4am.
Sara Tichgelaar, 18 and Jordyn Ramsay, 19, both in tiaras, were two of the early-morning revellers in line for the stamps. “It really brings the country together,” Ramsay says of the wedding and the Empress 400. “It makes you feel good to be a Canadian.”
The Monarchist League of Victoria clearly has nothing to worry about for the next few decades.