Video: Is London ready for Will and Kate’s big day?

  1. Transcript of: Is London ready for Will and Kate’s big day?

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Back at 8:44 as we count down to the royal wedding . We are now just one month away, so what can you expect if you are heading to London for that very big day ? Celia Walden is an NBC contributor and columnist for the Daily Telegraph , Kate Maxwell is the articles editor at Conde Nast Traveler , Simon Talling-Smith is from British Airways . And we should mention that British Airways is sponsoring our ROYAL TREATMENT contest. Good morning to you all.

    Ms. KATE MAXWELL: Good morning.

    Mr. SIMON TALLING-SMITH (British Airways): Good morning.

    VIEIRA: So as we said, a month away from this. This will probably be the global event of the year, most likely. Is England ready, is London ready?

    Ms. MAXWELL: Absolutely. I mean, it's just going to be such a festive occasion. There's going to be, you know, bunting everywhere, Union Jacks everywhere. The statues around Westminster are being polished especially for the occasion. It's really exciting for London , I think.

    VIEIRA: You know, when I was there a couple of weeks ago -- Celia , I'll direct this at you -- some people said, 'You know, you Americans are making more of this than we are over here.' Are the -- are the Brits starting to get excited, Celia ?

    Ms. CELIA WALDEN (Columnist, Daily Telegraph): Yes. Yeah, I think they are. I think that we were quite cynical. We have a tendency to be quite cynical to begin with. But actually, everyone really likes William and Kate . You know, there's nothing not to like there. And so gradually even the most cynical of us are kind of thinking, 'Well, actually, this is going to be quite a good day.' Plus, those who don't want to be here, because of the bank holidays can get 11 days off for the price of three, which is perfect.

    VIEIRA: So everybody's happy, no matter what.

    Ms. WALDEN: Exactly.

    VIEIRA: I understand that some Londoners are considering renting out their places. There's one real estate Web site that said one in four folks in London are considering that. Is that surprising to you? Or do you know anyone who's renting out their home?

    Ms. MAXWELL: I do know a -- I have got a couple of friends in London actually who are doing that. It's something that Londoners do for big occasions like Wimbledon . There's a great site called londonrentmyhouse.com that you can go on and find anything from a bedroom to an entire London town house. And airbnb.com also is another great site to check.

    VIEIRA: Is another great place. And if you -- if you go to London and you want to get around, I would imagine that cabs are pretty expensive. Best way to go would be public transportation, do you think?

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: Yeah. I mean, a cab's an experience everyone should have when they go to London , just to talk to the cabbie. I mean, these are the guys that know everything about London . But I would also say if you're visiting London , go on the Underground , go on the Tube , talk to Londoners , because this is going to be a day when London is opened up. You know, we Brits, we're known for being a bit reserved. And you're going to see us let our hair down on the 29th.

    VIEIRA: That's good to know.

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: Right.

    VIEIRA: I've heard there are going to be a lot of parties everywhere on that day, so if you can't get to the actual site you can sort of crash a party somewhere else in the city?

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: There'll be parties everywhere. And I would always advise anyone going to London on that day is just go to a pub. There -- every pub in London , and there are a lot of pubs in London , will be having a great party.

    VIEIRA: Yeah...

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: And that's the way to soak up the atmosphere.

    VIEIRA: OK. Celia , let me bring you in for a minute. We're talking about the big day itself. We know that Kate is arrival by Rolls Royce that morning from Buckingham Palace . She's going to travel from Buckingham to Westminster , and then she'll leave in a carriage. Obviously, people would love to be along that parade route. Where's the best place to be if you can be?

    Ms. WALDEN: I think it's madness really to expect to be along the parade route because, don't forget there are going to be two million people along one and a half miles. So it's going to be unbelievably cramped. My advice is to go high. Find places like the Park Lane Hotel , where you can go to the restaurant on the top and have a nice meal for kind of 50 or $70 and be able to watch the whole thing from relative comfort.

    VIEIRA: Would you recommend that people stay outside the city, do you think, Kate , and commute in, rather than staying in the city?

    Ms. MAXWELL: Yeah. I mean, if money's no object, obviously, you know, stay as centrally as you can. But if it is, then stay an hour outside the city in a county like Berkshire , where Kate Middleton 's parents live, or Surrey or Kent , and then you get a bit of English countryside as well and take the train in in the morning.

    VIEIRA: OK. Simon , you obviously know, being in the airline industry, so much about security. Do we expect that there will be a lot along the parade route? We're not going to have the machines that people have to go through, metal detectors, I would assume not, but...

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: No, not at all. I mean, security, of course, will be very well thought through. But I think we should think of this as a great day of celebration and as a party. And the emphasis will be on people enjoying themselves no matter where they've come from in the world.

    VIEIRA: And if you're still there over the weekend there's plenty to do, so stay put.

    Ms. MAXWELL: Absolutely.

    Mr. TALLING-SMITH: Right.

    VIEIRA: All right, Kate thank you so much . Simon as well, and Celia .

By
updated 4/8/2011 3:48:17 PM ET 2011-04-08T19:48:17

Diane Morton will soon be flying from Florida, where she lives, to London, to be in the city when the royal wedding takes place.

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She hasn't researched the procession route, and she may or may not try to stake out a spot to catch a glimpse of the carriage carrying Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton. But she just wants to be in London when it happens.

"Even if we don't see anything, it's OK just to be there, and be part of the hoopla," said Morton, 67, of Parkland, Fla., who will be traveling with her partner, Donald Ammons. "We enjoy London. It's a fun place to be, and we have a couple of good friends there. If we are lucky, maybe we'll get a glimpse of Kate in the carriage afterwards."

Story: A perfect day in royal London

Morton is one of 600,000 additional people who are expected to be in London when the royal wedding takes place April 29, according to estimates from London + Partners, the city's official tourism body.

Watch the wedding on giant screens
Those determined to wake up early and stand for hours along the procession route in hopes of seeing the royals in person may get their wish, but tourism experts say there are many other ways to experience the event, from street parties to watching it on giant screens to toasting the happy couple in a pub.

"The atmosphere in the city is going to be a lot of fun," said Dinah Hatch, author of a downloadable ebook, "Frommer's The Royal Wedding," just out from the travel guidebook company. "There will be a lot of pubbing and drinking, and even if you don't catch sight of Kate and Will, it'll be fun. Let's just hope it doesn't rain."

"We love a good party," agreed Karen Clarkson, Visit Britain's vice president for North America, "and there will be informal street parties happening all over London and around the U.K."

Officials have confirmed that giant screens at Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square will show live TV coverage of the event. Clarkson said Visit Britain expects screens will be put up at other locations as well "where people can watch it with a crowd, enjoy the atmosphere and experience the procession."

The route for the procession between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, where the couple will wed, runs through St. James's Park along The Mall; along Horse Guards Avenue past the Horse Guards Parade; and along Whitehall to Parliament Square. Those determined to stake out a spot should be prepared for hours of waiting.

"The key is to actually get there early; everyone knows these spots quite well," Hatch said. "There's a very specific route, past lots of major landmarks. ... There are places where you can get very close to their car or carriage."

But exactly what time you should arrive is anybody's guess. Three a.m. might be too early, but 6 a.m. might be too late. Bad weather might cut down crowds and wait time, while adding to the misery.

'A historic moment'
Crowds are also sure to be filling the streets and sidewalks beyond the palace grounds in expectation of an appearance by the happy couple after the ceremony. As fans of "The King's Speech" film know, tradition calls for the royals to emerge from Buckingham Palace onto a balcony after major events to greet the public.

"Everyone will be waiting for that moment," said Hatch. "It's a historic moment. You want to be a part of history."

Clarkson said despite the expected crowds, London had ample hotel capacity as of early April, with several new hotels just opened, including the W, St. Pancras Renaissance and the Corinthia. Those for whom the W's $440 (269 pounds) nightly rates are too steep will find plenty of alternatives, with prices falling the farther from center city you go. Early April data from Orbitz.com found average rates for hotel rooms in London this time of year are 21 percent higher over the same period from last year, at $185 nightly.

Slideshow: London calling (on this page)

Locales like Windsor, Brighton or Cambridge offer cheaper lodging, though you'll have to commute by train an hour or more to reach London. On the other end of the spectrum, if you can afford to live like a king, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel is offering a $30,146 five-night package for two that includes views of the procession and private tours by "associates of the royal family."

Airfares, meanwhile, do not appear to be going stratospheric. On April 7, online listings offered roundtrips from New York to London for well under $800 on several different carriers.

If you go

Those with a broader interest in Britain's monarchy can visit castles, museums and other attractions offering tours and exhibits, including the Tower of London, where Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII was beheaded; Buckingham Palace, where you can watch the changing of the guard daily; St. Paul's Cathedral, where William's mother Princess Diana was married; and the National Gallery, which houses paintings of kings and queens.

A two-hour, $25 (15 pound) walking tour from Celebrity Planet will show you the history of Kate and Will's courtship, with stops at Jigsaw, the clothing chain where she was working in 2007 when Will broke off their relationship; Mahiki, a nightclub where the prince racked up a bar bill of 11,000 pounds in a week after the breakup; and St. James's Palace, the official residence of William and his brother Harry.

Elsewhere in Britain at the end of April, the birthday of William Shakespeare is being marked April 26 in his hometown of Stratford; the Cheltenham Jazz Festival starts April 27; and Scotland's Speyside Whisky Festival runs April 28-May 2. "You can toast the royal couple with a dram or two," said Clarkson.

Cynics might say the way Diana and Charles' marriage turned out has dashed all romantic illusions about the royals, but Clarkson says many American visitors to England remain fascinated by the monarchy, and plenty of royal-watchers sincerely hope William's marriage has a happier ending than his mother's. After all, says Clarkson, "Everybody loves a good fairy tale."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: London calling

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  1. A view from the top in London

    London is home to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which will be held July 27 to Aug. 12, 2012. Visitors will be able to see all this wolrd-class city has to offer in the summertime - -everything from plays in Shakespeare's Globe Theater to bird's-eye views of the city on the London Eye. Pictured here, a passenger travels on the London Eye observation wheel which stands 135 meters high and is the tallest such wheel in Europe, on Oct. 22, 2010 in London. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    People cross the Millennium Bridge in wet weather in front of the newly-restored St. Paul's Cathedral on June 16, 2011 in London. A prominent feature in the London skyline and one of the world's most beautiful buildings, St. Paul's Cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th Century, and is celebrating its 300th anniversary with the completion of a 40 million pound restoration project. (Matthew Lloyd / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    Actors Dominic Rowan and Miranda Raison perform as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in Shakepeare's "Henry VIII" at the Globe Theatre in London on July 6, 2010. William Shakespeare's Globe Theater, on the south bank of the River Thames, burned to the ground during the staging of a play about Henry VIII in 1613 and was rebuilt in the late 1990s. (Luke MacGregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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    A view of Westminster Abbey on Nov. 19, 2010 in London. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    The Shard towers over St. Thomas Street, on July 5, 2012 in London. A new addition to the London skyline, It is the European Union's tallest building. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    A woman walks through Borough Market in London on Dec. 9, 2011. (Luke MacGregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Houses of Parliament

    A car travels along Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament on March 27, 2012 in London. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A classic pub

    Patrons drink at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub in London, on Dec. 19, 2011. This is one of London's oldest pubs and one of Charles Dickens' favorites, alluded to in "A Tale of Two Cities." (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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    The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park opened on July 6, 2004, in London. The fountain was designed by American Kathryn Gustafson as a tribute to the former princess, who died in a car crash in 1997. (Scott Barbour / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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