Postcards from London: Camping out

Dozens of eager royal watchers have set up camp outside Westminster Abbey, determined to have the best view of Friday's big event. Andrea Lee-Greenberg files on the fourth of a five-day series entitled 'Postcards from London.'

It's official: royal wedding fever has hit London.

At Westminster Abbey in particular, it's a bit of a zoo. Dozens of eager royal watchers have set up camp, determined to have the best view of Friday's big event.

They've come from all around — Canada, Australia, the United States and various points in Britain — with tents, sleeping bags, blankets and an incredible amount of royal enthusiasm.

"I'm here because it's just a crazy atmosphere," said Georgia Gibson, 12, sporting a fake tiara and clutching royal wedding flags. "It's great. Everyone's just, like, mad."

"I'm doing this for my family back home because they are completely obsessed with the royal wedding," added her nanny, Lacey West, originally from Houston, Tx. — herself wearing a fake tiara. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Just [Kate] driving by, I'm sure I'll burst into tears," she added, laughing.

"I don't think I'll go that far, but I think I'll cheer," said Georgia.

Union Jack hats of all shapes and sizes are being worn by those camping outside Westminster Abbey on Thursday. ((Andrea Lee-Greenberg/CBC))

Down the row, Elsie Scriven was standing by her tents. Scriven, 79, drove down from Milton Keynes, northwest of London, early this morning, fully prepared for a long wait before Friday's event.

"Sleeping bag, number one," Scriven said, listing off her camping goods. "Ground sheets. Grace (her friend) brought the tent. We've got some food and, the most important thing, we've got the champagne," she said with a laugh, saying they'll use it to toast the newlyweds.

"Everybody thinks we could stay at home and watch it on TV, and of course we can," she said. "But I think we'll get the sound of the service and the hymns and we'll be part of it. That's the way I look at it, you know."

Expert wedding camper

Donna Werner, of New Fairfield, Conn., had an enviable spot right across Victoria Street from the same entrance Kate Middleton will use when she arrives at Westminster Abbey.

With her she had what she called "everything I'll need," including:

  • Sleeping bag.
  • Tent.
  • Camp chair.
  • Tarps.
  • Ponchos.
  • Winter coat.
  • Hat.
  • Gloves.
  • Scarf.
  • Heating pads.
  • Duct tape.

Werner, as you can tell, is no rookie. She camped out for the wedding of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.  (She says she would have camped out for Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's marriage in 1981 — but was pregnant at the time.)

"I've always loved England, and the British history," she said, sitting comfortably in her chair. "There's a draw that just pulls me, and I'm just so interested in it. I just love it. I love everything about it."

Seeing the two of them together will be the big moment.

It's love that drew Marguerite and Matt Gavin all the way from Sacramento, Calif., for the royal wedding. They'd been scouting locations since Monday, and had finally settled on a great spot, near Werner, across from the abbey's entrance, where they sat wearing Union Jack hats and munching on sandwiches.

"They're sweet, and they're giving, and you can tell in their faces that they're real and honest and sincere, so that's why I'm here," said Marguerite, of William and Kate.

"Seeing the two of them together will be the big moment," said Matt.

"Finally, the union of them together," added his wife. "And then I'm waiting for them to have a family, eventually."

First things first. For now, let's just hope the weather holds.