- - Monday, April 25, 2011

LONDON | When Prince William marries Catherine Middleton, all Britons should be celebrating, or so says Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been working hard to whip up public enthusiasm for the extravaganza.

Setting an example, the Camerons are planning to throw their own party on Downing Street — after they have attended the wedding and reception, of course.

“My message to everyone who wants to have a street party is: I’m having one, and I want you to go ahead and have one, too,” he said.

But the majority of Britons are not listening.

Although about 4,000 street parties will take place Friday across the United Kingdom, one-third of local councils have not received a single application for such a fest. An ICM Research poll commissioned by the anti-monarchy group Republic found that four out of five Britons are “largely indifferent” or “couldn’t care less” about the royal wedding.

“This should be a wake-up call for the BBC, government and the palace, all of whom have been vastly — and deliberately — exaggerating the public’s enthusiasm for the wedding in recent weeks,” said Graham Smith, campaign manager for Republic. “It’s time to get some perspective — most people simply don’t care.”

Some Londoners definitely agree.

“I’m very unexcited,” said Hattie Deards, 35, out for a stroll in West London. “In my group of friends, we’ve never even talked about it.”

So while enthusiastic monarchists prepare for Friday’s royal nuptials by hanging bunting, baking cakes and stocking up on beer, others are planning their escapes — or anti-wedding parties.

About 18 percent of Britons plan to flee the country, according to a survey by CitySocialising. Others will flock to London, not to watch the wedding but to protest all it represents.

When so many here are suffering as a result of the bleak economy and harsh budget cuts, it seems to some a rather bad time for the royal family to be flaunting wealth and privilege.

Republic, which wants an elected head of state, says it will hold an alternative street party in Red Lion Square.

“We want to get people to look at the royal wedding as a PR event staged by a political institution,” said Mr. Smith. “And to challenge some of the hype.”

Republic’s “Not the Royal Wedding” street party will be “an ironic take on a traditional street party,” with flags, food, children’s entertainment and a live jazz band, Mr. Smith said.

Attendees can buy “I’m not a royal wedding mug” mugs and sign a card for Kate and William that wishes the couple luck but cautions: “Don’t plan to be king and queen because we are going to push for elections.”

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