Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Royal Day in the crowd

London was a blanket of red, white and blue as millions of well wishers from all over flocked to London to catch a glimpse of the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Clutching the Union Jack flags, they came from all over the world and camped overnight for the royal wedding at areas near the Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Parliament Square, Strand, Whitehall and The Mall.

In London, giant screens were installed at Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square so that people could watch the entire event courtesy the BBC.

Why did I go?

Being raised in India, I had no experience of monarchy until I came to the UK seven months ago. Being in London at the time of the royal wedding made it impossible for me to avoid the mania.

I have no connection with the royal family and my life does not revolve around them. I went like a crazy person to witness the wedding and absorb the atmosphere. I neither care about the royal family or nor am I a royalist.

I stood amidst the entire crowd who had come from different parts of the world to experience the wedding. The crowd did not deter me from going as I have experienced massive crowds in London on New Years Eve and at the pillow fight. For me it was more of an event and less of a marriage.

The key is to go early and reserve a good viewing spot if you are really crazy. Having reached the venue just an hour before the ceremony was scheduled to being, the best bet was Hyde Park. In a span of five hours I watched the entrance and church service at Hyde Park and the procession and the kiss at Trafalgar Square on big screens. The areas near Westminster and Buckingham Palace were later condoned off due to overcrowding.

The crowd

The mood was exciting and people were trying high and low to catch a glimpse of the newly wedded couple. The crowd came well prepared with tents and picnic baskets. People had dressed up for the occasion. Some wore wedding gowns; some wore attires resembling the union jack while others wore special William and Kate merchandise. The waving of the flag was a common sight.

At Hyde Park, the atmosphere was feel-good. There was a loud applause when members of the royal family entered the church. However, once the church service began, there was silence among the crowd. Many had purchased the wedding programme booklet and joined in the service by singing the hymns. The crowd cheered the couple when they uttered the words “I will”. Many Britons shed tears of joy. It was indeed an emotional moment for them.

Trafalgar Square witnessed a truly electrifying atmosphere. The crowd was livelier. There was a live band, contests for the best hats, the unveiling of the Boris tandem – a bicycle meant for two.

The crowd eagerly waited for the golden kiss – where the newly wedded couple would kiss on the balcony of the Buckingham Palace for six minutes. However, the crowds jeered them when they publicly kissed twice on the balcony while the rest of the royal family and the Middleton’s looked on.

The celebrations

London was truly the party capital with a large number of people organising royal wedding street parties and private parties in homes, backyards and terraces.

Royal wedding celebrations were held throughout the country from 1000 BST onwards. Only a selected few were invited to the church service and the reception. The rest of the country organised street parties with permission from the local council. Several pubs and clubs had royal wedding themed parties that continued through the wee hours of the morning. I managed to crash into four such parties in central London. At the end of the evening, the roads in London were ruined with empty alcohol bottles and cans thrown all over the place and many drunkards on the road.

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Why should I care about the Royal Wedding?

The United Kingdom has gone insane. The country has gone gaga over the royal wedding that will take place tomorrow in London.

Special royal wedding souvenirs are everywhere. People from all over the place have thronged the city to witness the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Transport for London (TFL) has issued a limited edition Oyster card to commemorate the marriage.

The wedding is less of a union between two people but a commercialised hyped up event that has attracted many tourists and gotten the Britons excited. The madness began ever since the couple announced their engagement in November 2010.

National holiday

April 29, 2011 has been declared as a national holiday in view of the royal wedding.

Having an extra holiday is great. The wedding falls a week after Easter. Thus, there are just three business days between April 22 and May 2. This could spell disaster for small businesses that are struggling to thrive in the poor economic condition.

The other important things

Storms in Alabama, protests in Syria and Libya; does the United Kingdom care? I think not.

Newspapers are filled with news of the wedding. News channels have gone overboard with the wedding broadcast. Very little news space is given to the important news happening around the world.

Being an Indian studying in London, in the heart of the madness, the British royal family means nothing to me. Therefore the royal wedding also means nothing to me. I don’t know Prince William and Kate Middleton, have never met them before and will probably never meet them ever.

What about the money?

The wedding is a massive expense. The royal family and the Middleton’s will be funding the wedding but security arrangements have fallen on the state treasury, which is actually public money. The debt-ridden city of London is facing spending cuts and people are getting laid off work. The royal family has immense personal wealth that they accumulated over the years through slavery, war and colonisation. It is thus unfair to have taxpayers foot the bill for the extravaganza.

On the bright side, they  have set up The Prince William & Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund so that well-wishers can donate gifts meant for the couple to charity.

With just a few hours left for all the hoopla to end. I hope the city gets back to normal and people get on with their lives as soon as possible.

I am surely going to witness all the madness tomorrow and be a part of this event. Congratulations Prince William and Kate Middleton. Wish you both a happy married life.

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A fairy tale wedding

Every young girl dreams of meeting her Prince Charming, marrying him, becoming a princess, living in a palace and living happily ever after.

Unlike other girls, Kate Middleton’s fairy tale love story will come true tomorrow as she walks down the aisle with Prince William.

The couple dated for several years and their relationship hit rock bottom. They sailed through it and now they can see a happy ending of getting married and living happily ever after.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

Kate Middleton will be the centre of attention. Her every movement will be under the watchful eye of the media and of the people. As a public figure she will no longer be able to enjoy the private life she used to have.

She will no longer be able to catch the latest sale at Primark as she will get the best of everything. She will live in the lap of luxury for the rest of her life.

Kate Middleton will be be under tremendous pressure. She will have to meet up to the expectations of the British subjects. She can’t make mistakes. One minute she is the nation’s sweetheart but any flaw could make her a hate figure and everyone will remember it for long.

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Who said pillow fights were only for kids?

We have had pillow fights as kids with our siblings and with friends at sleepovers. This time it was with complete strangers from 1500 to 1530 at Trafalgar Square in London.

The International Pillow Fight Day is celebrated on 2nd April all over the world. The pillow fight is part of the urban playgroup movement – a playful part of the larger public space movement.

The International Pillow Fight Day was started in 2008 by University of Toronto students Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner.

The International Pillow Fight 2011 was held in 130 locations over the world including Adelaide in Australia, Toronto in Canada, Zurich in Switzerland, Seoul in South Korea, Paris in France and others.

The Rules

  • Fight only with soft pillow. Hard objects are not allowed
  • No feathers as they leave a mess
  • Remove your glasses and then jump in
  • Start when the whistle blows at 1500 and not before that
  • Swing lightly
  • Don’t swing at anyone without a pillow or holding a camera
  • Wear pyjamas and night clothes (no ugly-naked-guys)
  • Don’t take permission to hold the event. Public assembly is a human right.
  • Clean up after the pillow fight

Fund raising

The International Pillow Fight Day 2011 raised money through the sale of memorabilia towards the Japan Tsunami Appeal by the British Red Cross Foundation.

Memorabilia included the ‘whack and keep’ souvenir pillows for £5, t-shirts for £10.50 and tickets for the after party.

The fight

Trafalgar Square was full of people in their nightgowns, jumpsuits, overalls, onesies, fluffy slippers, bathrobes, long john’s and pyjamas.

The whistle blew at 1500 and people of all ages started swinging their pillows. As they were fighting, many pillows exploded and there were innumerable feathers flying all over the place. I was totally trashed and full of feathers but my pillow was intact.

At the end of the fight, many were exhausted and laid down at Trafalgar Square with their heads on their pillows.

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