Westminster Abbey readies for wedding
London - Flags are going up, cleaning crews are scrubbing down and
two die-hard fans are already camping out. Welcome to Westminster Abbey, ground
zero for Britain's royal wedding frenzy.
Workers were putting up flags on Tuesday near the venerable abbey
in central London and cleanup crews were deploying as the finishing touches
were put in place.
In the past days and weeks, large temporary media structures have
gone up to offer standing room for thousands of journalists expected in London
to witness Friday's nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Police were getting ready too. Scotland Yard's cavalry arm was
putting its ceremonial division, known as the Grey Escort, through its paces ahead
of Friday's ceremony, while the military was gearing up for a dress rehearsal
involving hundreds of service personnel expected to line the procession route.
Streets in London are being sealed off so troops from London's
Wellington and Hyde Park Barracks can participate in the rehearsal early on Wednesday
Scotland Yard and other regional forces are to deploy around 5 000
officers to police the royal wedding procession, but Assistant Commissioner
Lynne Owens appealed to the public to be on their guard amid fears that Irish
or Islamist extremists could target the ceremony.
"We really need you to be our eyes and our ears," Owens
Tuesday was the last day that the venerable abbey is open to the
public before the royal wedding. Dozens of tourists milling around the ancient
building were asked to pause for a moment of reflection as a public prayer was
offered for William and Middleton's marriage.
"Today we pray for all couples preparing for marriage,
especially today we pray for His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss
Catherine Middleton as they prepare for their great day on Friday," the
Rev Martin Hume said.
At a prime spot along the wedding procession route, John Loughrey
of London, a 56-year-old self-described "super-fan" of the late
Princess Diana, was already camped out.
"I have always been loyal to the Royal Family," he said.
"Diana would be proud of her son Prince William and Catherine's marriage
with Prince Harry as best man. She will be with them in spirit in Westminster
Abbey on their special day and always."