London - For hardcore fans of the British
monarchy, sitting glued to the television with popcorn just doesn't cut it for
an occasion like a royal wedding.
Instead, hundreds of American anglophiles -
armed with colourful hats, Union Jacks on sticks, and boundless enthusiasm -
have flown to London to be in the thick of it, even if the throngs may make it
hard to actually see the royal couple.
"Who knows when the next wedding of a
future monarch will take place?" said Catie Anchin, a 29-year-old fan who
arrived with her husband from Washington DC on Tuesday. "This is my chance
to see history happen in the flesh."
What is the draw for people without prized
invitations to Westminster Abbey? They say they want to soak up the atmosphere,
hoard souvenirs, and, most important, catch a glimpse of the couple's public
smooch on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
That last mission won't be an easy one.
As the tourists scoped out the best spot to
stand, they worriedly asked how exactly they could beat the roughly 1 million
other well-wishers expected to line The Mall on Friday.
"Holy Toledo, what am I going to do on
the day?" said Debbie Achs, a property manager from Mesa, Arizona, as she
took in the barricades and the scale of the press stands being set up around
the palace and along the wedding procession route.
"If I see the balcony kiss that will
be the icing on the cake. I don't think I'll be camping out at 05:00, so I'll
have to get creative in other ways."
Achs, 54, rushed to book her flight days
after William and Middleton announced their wedding date in late November. The
wedding provides the perfect excuse to visit Britain, her spiritual home, to
which she has been returning every year since 2001 to indulge her appetite for
castles and royal history.
Other American tourists have similar
stories about their love affair with the royals: Hailing from such a young
nation, they're fascinated by the centuries-old protocol, the pomp, and the
fairytale stories of princes and princesses. Some of the women also confess
they have a soft spot for William because they watched him grow up on
Some cite additional personal connections:
Achs, for example, feels an affinity with the late Princess Diana because they
were born in the same year and both gave birth to two sons. Anchin ascribes her
lifelong obsession to her birthday, which falls on the same day as that of the
late Queen Mother Elizabeth.
Janice Ashby, who arrived on Wednesday with
a girl friend, has a strategy of sorts to beat the crowds.
"I'm 5 feet 10 inches tall and I'm
going to wear stilettos, so hopefully I will tower over all the short
spectators and get a glimpse of the royal bride," said Ashby, 56, from
She's made her own fascinator - a small
feathered or jewelled hairpiece attached to a clip or a comb - for the
occasion. Hers is pink and black complete with a big butterfly.
"We never get the opportunity to wear
such fun and frivolity," she said. "I will wear my fascinator with
pride, and cheer and yell for the royal couple as loudly as if I were at a
Others say they would be content bringing
home memories of the day.
"Even if we can't actually see them,
we'll hear the horses' hooves on the ground and the creak of the
carriages," said Sheree Troy, a 54-year-old collector of royal memorabilia
from Lincolnton, North Carolina. Troy has more than 200 royal-related books and
a display case heaving with monarchy items at home.
Anchin has been incorporating more royal
history into her life choices since then - including convincing her husband,
Scott, to get married last year on the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's
marriage to Prince Philip.
To make the most of her trip, Anchin is
also planning to celebrate the night before at Mahiki, the posh nightclub where
William and Middleton have been known to party.
Her husband didn't mind.
"Who needs sleep on the royal wedding
week?" he said. "I'm ready for it."