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British Public Divided Over Royal Wedding

  • Henry Ridgwell

In a quiet suburb of London, Margaret Tyler has pretty much every piece of Royal memorabilia ever produced - more than 10,000 pieces in all.

In a quiet suburb of London, Margaret Tyler has pretty much every piece of Royal memorabilia ever produced - more than 10,000 pieces in all.

Britain is gearing up for its biggest show of pomp and patriotism in decades as the countdown begins to the Royal Wedding on Friday. Five thousand street parties are planned as the government has declared Friday an official holiday. Though polls show a majority of the British are not interested in the wedding - for the monarchy's biggest fans, this is the event of the century.

While Britain may be divided over the wedding, Prince William and Catherine Middleton are guaranteed a prime position in one little corner of royal England.

In a quiet suburb of London, Margaret Tyler’s home - ‘Heritage House’ - is a shrine to the British monarchy.

"This was my dining room table, this is where my family all sat round when they came on a Sunday or whatever, now we sit with our dinner on our laps because William and Catherine seem to have taken over the whole thing," she said.

It seems Tyler has pretty much every piece of Royal memorabilia ever produced - more than 10,000 pieces in all. Hundreds and hundreds of mugs bearing the faces of the Royals hang from the walls. There are cardboard cut-outs. Royal garden gnomes. Seemingly every magazine ever published that has featured a member of the monarchy. There’s even a piece of jelly, which Tyler says includes a strand of hair belonging to the late Princess Diana. There’s so little room left, some of her old collections are getting hidden behind new souvenirs.

"Even here when you take this down, you’ve got a picture of them! And that was from the night of the engagement," she said. "I think it’s rather sweet the way she’s looking down, I think that’s lovely, I love that picture."

So how does this wedding compare to the others she has seen over the decades?

"There’s been a lot happening in the 30 years since I’ve been collecting," she said. "But the thing is now you’ve got many more ways of seeing the Royal Family on the day. Whereas Charles and Diana had 750 million people watching them get married, they do reckon there’s going to be 2 billion people watching this young couple, I mean that is a lot!"

Nearly every shop in Britain seems to be peddling some kind of Royal memorabilia. But polls suggest only 37 percent of the British public are ‘genuinely interested and excited’ by the wedding.

So VOA decided to come to a typical London pub to do our own very unscientific survey. We bought a Royal Wedding sick bag, for those who find the whole thing a bit nauseous. And we also bought a Royal Wedding British flag complete with a photo of William and Kate in the middle.

Pub customers had different opinions about which piece of Royal memorabilia they would choose.

"I think I’ll have to go with the Royal Wedding flag. I quite like the Royal Wedding, I’m looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to having a bit of a party, going out, celebrating and sort of being patriotic throughout the day so yes, flag for me," said one woman.

"Royal Wedding flag. It’s just patriotic, I’m an Englishman and I’m just quite looking forward to it," said one male patron. "We’ll have a little party round mine, maybe a barbecue if the weather holds up; yeah it should be a nice day."

"It’s got to be the sick bag," said another man. "I think the whole thing is completely blown out of proportion. I mean it’s two people getting married at the end of the day so what’s the big fuss about? At least we get a day off though so that’s the one good thing about it. But if push comes to shove, it’s got to be the sick bag."

The Royal family and the British taxpayer - and as tradition demands, Catherine’s parents - are paying tens of millions of pounds for the wedding of the century.

The government says an extra 600,000 visitors are expected in London. More than 5,000 street parties are planned across the country.

Just a small sampling of collector Margaret Tyler’s Royal memorabilia

Just a small sampling of collector Margaret Tyler’s Royal memorabilia

Margaret Tyler says she just can’t wait to buy a porcelain version of the new princess to add to her Royal Collection.

"I’m hoping to get one of Catherine as soon as we know what her dress looks like, but obviously it’ll take a little while for them to be finished," she said. "But I imagine the dress will look stunning and she’ll be stunning. And her hair is beautiful. Noone knows if she’s going to have it up or down, there’s so much to think about!"

And if fashion is not your thing, you could always spice up the day with a gamble. Bookmakers in London are offering 100-to-1 that William’s best man, Prince Harry, will forget the wedding rings.

See more in our Royal Wedding Special Report.

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