(England Twitter)-Millions of UK will pour into the streets Friday as Prince William ties the knot with his college sweetheart Kate Middleton. But the turnout isn't necessarily an overwhelming show of support for the wedding or the British monarchy.
Many as one million spectators are expected to line the streets of London to watch the procession from Westminster Abbey, where Kate and William will be married, to Buckingham Palace, where their reception will take place.
Capitalize on the event, convenience stores and supermarkets are peddling paper masks of Kate, William and other members of the royal family. Union Jack balloons and buntings are ubiquitous. Pubs are pumping pints of specially brewed ale and setting up big-screen TVs for viewing the ceremony and procession.
Polls have shown interest in the royal wedding is significantly lower in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Other surveys suggest an archetypal wedding enthusiast would be a politically conservative woman who is more than 60 years old and hails from southern England. Most likely to be apathetic: a libertarian-leaning Scottish man between 25 and 39 years old.
Local Government estimates there will be at least 11,000 street parties nationwide, including those that don't need permits. Chris Gittings, director of Streets Alive Ltd., a group in Bristol that helps people plan such events, said he's received "thousands and thousands" of inquiries.
UK street parties date back to at least 1919, when public "peace teas" were a common way of celebrating the end of the World War I. Since then, they've become a way to mark national or royal occasions. In 1977, at the Queen's "Silver Jubilee" celebrating 25 years of her reign, some 10 million Brits attended them, Mr. Gittings said.
Festival will feature stuntmen dressed as knights fighting on stage. There will be a parade. Shops will be decked in medieval-themed bunting. Employees will be dressed in period costumes.
And of course, there will be a beer tent, offering up pints of mead, ale and cider.