(Photo: Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey.)
At first I thought the gent with the parrot on his shoulder wanted to hail a taxi. The cab was stuck in the traffic outside Westminster Abbey, between a Dutch tour bus and the rainbow double-decker bus chartered by Pink Punters LGBT Nightclub of Milton Keynes. The Pink Punters’ bus was festooned with Union Jack bunting. The parrot was festooned with tropical green plumage. And two little girls in the taxi were leaning out the window, talking to it.
Welcome to London, the afternoon before the Royal Wedding. The place has let the lid off.
(Photo: Westminster Abbey base camp.)
The city’s streets are packed, and it’s a party. As your official Royal Correspondent (“Little Moi” on my press credentials, which I printed at home this morning) I spent the afternoon braving the crowds outside Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
(Photo: Little Moi with revelers in front of Buckingham Palace.)
(Photo: Piers Morgan, dodging taxis.)
It’s wall-to-wall reveling. Along the wedding parade route families are camped out. Tourists — from Bedouins in full black to Yanks in full-figured jeans — are ten deep. A BBC reporter says he’s “overwhelmed” with the number of Americans outside Buckingham Palace. Fortunately, he’s smiling when he says this. And the tourists are swamped by the Brits. Who are all in a great mood.
Across the street from Buckingham Palace, a temporary three-story television center has been set up, with booths for dozens of networks from around the world. And behind the temporary studio, in Green Park, dozens of satellite transmitters have been set up.
It’s a daunting sight. Listen, I’ve gotten married. Fifteen minutes before the ceremony, when I heard the organ start to play, I thought OH. MY. GOD. This is the real deal. That was when I took a big gulp. But that was nothing compared to the scene on the Mall this afternoon. If I’d seen this forest of satellite dishes getting ready to focus on my wedding, I would have completely freaked out.
(Photo: Best of British!)
A few minutes ago Prince William “took a walkabout” on the Mall. Women in the crowd, dressed as sunflowers and circus clowns, greeted him, champagne glasses in hand, like he was Justin Bieber.
All I got to see was Piers Morgan. Now I feel cheated.
Final sign that the media machine is revving into high gear: walking from the Mall to Parliament Square, we were overwhelmed by the drone of hovering helicopters.
Not everybody, of course, is happy about the wedding. Aside from misanthropes and anarchists, there was a group across the street from Westminster Abbey protesting that the Freemasons are a cabal of secret assassins. Yeah, it makes no sense to me either. But the complainers are a minority. As the BBC put it just now, “All but the hardest hearted wish this young couple well.”