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Britain basks in royal wedding afterglow
Question of the Day
LONDON | The royal wedding may be over, but the festive mood it inspired lingers on - at least until the British go back to work on Tuesday.
The four-day weekend they received in honor of the wedding is taking the edge off whatever national hangover persisted from Friday’s celebrations. The days following the wedding dawned bright and sunny, drawing picnickers, sunbathers and groups of soccer players to Hyde Park, the site of a massive party on the wedding day.
Dee Izzard, 62, and her daughter Michelle, 32, of Hertfordshire relaxed on grass still strewn with confetti. They had not made it to London to see the wedding, so they made the trip Saturday to soak up some of the remaining atmosphere.
“We came today to go to Westminster Abbey,” said Dee Izzard. “We walked around and saw Kate’s bouquet [laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior] and the trees.”
The wedding bouquet was “a bit wilted now but very pretty,” she added.
Michelle Izzard missed the wedding because she was at work at a shoe store but said she watched part of it on her phone.
“It’s mainly about the dress, isn’t it,” she said.
They did not feel any post-wedding letdown, they said, because there was still so much to enjoy.
“It’s exciting to see everything that was put in place and all of the work involved,” said Dee Izzard.
Some of the work was still going on. Nearby, workers were dismantling the massive television screens that broadcast the wedding to Friday’s crowds and loading them into trucks.
Work in Hyde Park began at 9 a.m. Saturday and the end was nowhere in sight, said Phil Edwards of the One Step Beyond Transit Company. He and his team started their day clearing similar TV screens in Trafalgar Square at 3:15 a.m.
“If it were raining, we would be in a bad mood by now,” he said.
But the sun shone, his wife Shirley came along to keep him company, and he admitted that it was a rather nice day to be in the park.
“And it was beautiful driving around London at 4 a.m.,” he said. “No buses flying around getting in your way, no taxis.”
At Buckingham Palace, thousands of tourists lined the gates, peering in to see the guards and maybe even a glimpse of someone royal.
“I would love it if they just poked their heads out or something,” said Denise Aquart, 17, of Hitchin, a town north of London, who was standing with her face pressed against the bars.
If she had been hoping to see Prince William and Catherine - now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - she was out of luck. The couple was spending the weekend in an “undisclosed location” within Britain. They have postponed their honeymoon because Prince William returns to duty asa pilotnext week.
“I want to see Harry,” said her friend Amy Barton, 18, also of Hitchin, who was dressed up like a fairy, with wings and liberal glitter. “I like Prince Harry.”
They and their friend Leila Ward, 17, of London had wanted to be in the city for the wedding but couldn’t make it.
The Mall, part of the royal wedding route that runs from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, was teeming with tourists but surprisingly free of rubbish only 24 hours after a million people descended on it to watch the procession.
The 130 members of Westminster Council’s cleaning staff had removed 140 tons of garbage over the holiday weekend. Before the wedding, street cleaners had worked through the night to polish up statues, streets and walkways for its visitors and the royal family.
“Westminster plays host to many big events every year, but this one was a special challenge,” said Ed Argar, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for City Management. “Our staff rose to that challenge, and we are very proud of their efforts.”
A hyper-vigilant Metropolitan Police force was also busy before the wedding, clearing the streets of people suspected of plotting mischief.
The night before the wedding, police arrested anti-capitalist protestors who had planned theatrical events near the wedding route that included what they called a “Right Royal Orgy” and the beheading of an effigy of Prince Andrew. Police charged them with “conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.”
Activists have criticized the police for needlessly quashing freedom of expression. The planned performances were going to be peaceful, they said.
“They [police] just wanted to keep us all in their dungeons until it was all over,” said Chris Knight, a Marxist member of the street theater group, who was held by police for 25 hours. “There is nothing more threatening to a ritual than a counter-ritual.”
Metropolitan Police were pleased with their handling of wedding security.
“We made it clear from the outset that we would be robust, decisive and proportionate in policing this event,” said Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens.
“A number of individuals were arrested who we felt were intent on causing disruption, committing acts of criminality or likely to cause alarm harassment or distress to the vast majority of people who wanted to come and celebrate this joyous occasion.”
Fifty-five people were arrested on the day of the wedding, itself, nearly half for “breach of the peace.”
Several planned protests did not take place. The Muslims Against Crusades, a group that had threatened a protest as close to the wedding route as possible, canceled its demonstration at the last moment. The group cited the “threat of an imminent attack against those attending the royal wedding.” They warned all Muslims to stay away from the wedding and public transportation.
Because the Muslim group didn’t show up, the British Defence League also canceled its counterprotest. It had planned to try to stop the Muslim group from emerging from the subway near the wedding route.. It had planned to try to stop the Muslim group from emerging from the subway near the wedding route.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the peaceful and happy celebration of the royal wedding was “a wonderful advertisement for what London does best.”
“The city looks fantastic. It feels fantastic, and the transport system has worked very credibly indeed,” he said.
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