London. It’s Diana Mania 2.0 — at least in the press.
Kate Middleton, future queen of England, graces the cover of almost every celebrity weekly and even the more serious daily newspapers in Britain. And attention on the bride-to-be promises to intensify as the nuptials of the late Diana’s son, Prince William, and Middleton draw close.
But Britons without press credentials seem to be more excited that they’re simply getting a day off from work on April 29.
Lara White, 27, who lives in hip East London, said she’s heard of more anti-wedding parties than celebratory bashes, at least among her friends in the Williamsburg-style neighborhood.
“Maybe older people like it, but younger people aren’t interested,” White said.
To be sure, not every press account is fawning. Britain’s opinion pages are filled with columnists turning their noses up at the spectacle. Columnist Roy Greenslade writes of his reaction to the royal engagement: “For the nth time, I said to myself: ‘Not again, please not again. Not that endless attention to the clothes, the hairstyles, the grooming.’”
Merchandisers, however, are gambling on big public interest. The souvenir shops are full of Union Jack bunting, flags, mugs, thimbles and other royal-wedding paraphenelia.
Even mainstream stores are filled to the brim with tchotchkes. Large supermarket chain Sainsbury has British-flag plates and napkins and “Congratulations Kate and William” mugs at the ready. Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper estimates that the royal-wedding souvenir industry could give stores a billion-pound boost even as many Britons struggle.
Many bet that business will be fueled by tourists — but also natives such as Mark Green, 30, of Queens Park.
Green is considering joining the crowds of people to watch Kate and Wills as they travel from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace.
“I think a lot of young people are interested,” he said. “But it’s not cool, so they won’t admit it.”