Was the wedding just an excuse for a party? Or maybe Londoners actually like the royals…

Photos: Catalina May

I was already living in London when they announced the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. I come from Chile and it is really hard for me to understand that the UK, such an important and modern society, has a royal family, a monarchy.

So yesterday I was very interested in seeing how people manage to relate to something  like a royal wedding and all the pomp and paraphernalia surrounding it.

I have been living in Brockley, Lewisham, for eight months, so I wanted to start with my local community. I headed to Deptford at 10 in the morning, to a street party that The Deptford Project had announced. When I arrived I found a family atmosphere, people wearing fancy dresses and suits. The best part was the tea party happening inside a train carriage, with cream tea and sandwiches for everybody.

Mercia Jensen waiting for the wedding ceremony in Deptford

Emma Symes, a member of the Tá Na Deptford group and the party organiser said: “The royal wedding is an opportunity to explore what we think about this, what we think about the royal family, to celebrate and get together.

“I’m not a royalist, but I think that this reminds us that we are British and we should be proud of it. So we are waving the British flag in our own way.”

The excitement at the party swelled as the moment of the wedding service grew closer and everyone was eager to catch a glimpse of the bride.

Mercia Jensen came from Birmingham to London because of the royal wedding. “I’m really excited about this wedding for some strange reason,” she said.

“In Birmingham this has been a life-saver for loads of people, it has brought money for producing souvenirs, for example. And it is my birthday today, so I wanted to celebrate it with my family and its community.”

Vronni Ward and her husband dressed for the occasion

Vronni Ward and her husband were elegantly dressed in evening-wear for the occasion. She said: “I believe in the royal family, I believe is a wonderful institution. I love all the dresses and all the pompous circumstance.”

“I can’t wait to see the dress! And this café is really edgy and arty and wonderful, everybody is in a happy mood.”

Sadly, a few minutes before the ceremony started, the BBC website crashed and the screen went blank. After a few minutes people started to leave, so I decided to leave as well in order to be able to watch the ceremony.

I quickly ran to a friend’s house nearby, and managed to arrive just in time. A couple of friends where there, just in front of the telly, not taking the wedding too seriously but still watching it.

We agreed that the dress was really nice and that the craziness in central London was way too much. We laughed at a girl who said that she got to see “a glimpse of something white” when a reporter asked her about Kate’s wedding dress.

My friends watching the ceremony in Brockley

After the ceremony and before the much-waited kiss, I went to Shoreditch.

I had heard that there was going to be a great street party there and was keen to check it out. When I arrived at Leonard street I actually found loads of people there, but the street party was not a proper one. It was more like a private street party, if something like that is possible.

Party in Leonard Street, Shoreditch

The street was closed and they were not allowing more people inside. Not even people who had a wristband that they had collected in advance were admitted.

Despite this, the atmosphere was still good. People were in a party mood and looking really trendy, as you can expect in Shoreditch. The sun was making some brief appearances and an “unofficial” party was taking place outside the fences.

There were still lots of people queuing to get inside the official party, including Anna Hogluna. She said: “I’m here to celebrate the wedding, I absolutely support the royal family. I think today is an occasion to celebrate love between a young couple. I wish them the best.”

Her friend Christian Lindrujn was not as romantic as her, saying: “I’m here because they gave me a day off. I don’t really care about the royal wedding.”

Anna Hoglund and Christian Lindrujn queuing to get into the party

Finally someone had said what a lot of people were feeling.

I could tell that people were not really into the wedding, most of them were partying with the wedding as an excuse. This was definitely true of Crudgie, from New Cross, a man dressed in black and looking really angry and out of place.

I asked him why he was there and he told me that his friend’s band was going to play in the party. I asked him what he thought about the royal wedding and he said: “If I had a machine gun you would know it. I hate them, I would kill them all because they take money from the people, they are not elected and they are not even English.”

Crudgie hating the royal wedding

At that moment I was ready to go and see what was going on in Tower Hamlets. When I arrived to St Katherine’s Dock I found a chilled out atmosphere, with families drinking wine and champagne and enjoying the sun.

More and more people kept arriving and there were even celebrations onboard the boats docked there.

Verity Coles from South-West London came to Tower Hamlets to celebrate. She said: “I came here to watch the wedding with my friends. I really wanted to see her dress and I think it is beautiful and she looks gorgeous. We wanted to have a nice day together and it’s been really great.”

People partying on a boat in St. Katherine´s Dock

After attending these parties I was really impressed with how British people feel about having a royal family. What I saw was people celebrating the wedding and people not caring about it, but still partying.

On my way home I heard about an anti-royal wedding party in the squatted former social centre building in Deptford. I was surprised that even these activists were paying attention to the wedding. You can say that is an anti party, but is still a party, right?

Click here for yesterday’s live coverage.

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