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 that you can go on and find anything from a bedroom to an entire London town house. And 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 .

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 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
  2. Millennium Bridge

    Pedestrians cross the Millennium Bridge, spanning the River Thames in London, on Feb. 15, 2012. (Stefan Wermuth / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Double-decker bus

    A double-decker bus travels through Piccadilly Circus on March 19, 2012 in London. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Buckingham Palace

    At the end of The Mall is Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty The Queen resides. (George Rose / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Great Court

    Visitors walk in the Great Court of the British Museum on Feb. 22, 2011 in London. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Treetop walkway

    A woman walks across the new Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop walkway, with a view of the Temperate House behind, at Kew Gardens in London on May 22, 2008. The 18-meter high structure gives visitors the opportunity to view the tree canopy at Kew. (Luke MacGregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. St. Paul's Cathedral

    Tourists look towards St. Paul's Cathedral while riding on an open-top bus through central London on April 15, 2012. Despite a short-term tourism boom at the time of the Olympics, economists are warning that it won't be enough to prevent a sharp slowdown in the economy this year. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Inside St. Paul's Cathedral

    A verger pauses to look at one of the statues in St. Paul's Cathedral after its recent major restoration, in London on June 16, 2011. The St. Paul's Cathedral program of cleaning and repair cost 40 million pounds, has taken 15 years and is the first time in its history that the building has been comprehensively restored inside and out, it was reported on the Cathedral website. (Paul Hackett / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Oxford Circus

    Traffic at the Oxford Circus junction at the intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street on May 1, 2012 in London. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Trafalgar Square

    Tourists enjoy the sunshine in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square on March 28, 2012 in London. (Matthew Lloyd / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. The Tower of London

    The Tower of London is a historic castle that early in its history served as a royal residence. It's probably most well-known for its use as a place of imprisonment. King Henry VIII executed two of his wives there, and before she became queen, Elizabeth I was held captive there by her half-sister, Queen Mary I. (Scott Barbour / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. River Thames

    An aerial view of the River Thames in London, with the Shard at left and Tower Bridge in the foreground, on September 5, 2011 in London. (Tom Shaw / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Tate Modern

    Visitors to Tate Modern walk through sunlight shining through the windows, in London on July 30, 2009. (Andrew Winning / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Walking across the bridge

    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
  15. Graffiti art

    A woman walks past an ornately-painted building in the Shoreditch area of London on Jan. 14, 2012. Ornate graffiti appears on many buildings and structures in areas of the east London borough of Shoreditch. (Andrew Winning / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Time for soccer

    People play soccer during a warm autumn weather spell on Hampstead Heath, with the City of London in the background, on Oct. 29, 2009. (Jas Lehal / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Fish and chips

    Chelsea soccer fans eat fish and chips outside The Cafe Fish Bar in west London on May 13, 2012. Deep-fried fish in a crispy batter, with fat golden chips, is still as popular as ever with the British public, ranked alongside roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and chicken tikka masala as the nation's favorite dish. (Eddie Keogh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Shopping spree

    Selfridges department store is illuminated on Oxford Street on December 5, 2011 in London. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Royal Albert Hall and Albert Memorial

    An aerial view of the Royal Albert Hall and Albert Memorial on July 26, 2011 in London. (Tom Shaw / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Shakespeare's Globe Theater

    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
  21. Westminster Abbey

    A view of Westminster Abbey on Nov. 19, 2010 in London. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. The Shard

    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
  23. Borough Market

    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
  26. London's West End

    Cars travel at night, along Shaftesbury Avenue past West End theatres, on March 29, 2012 in London. The city's West End is synonymous with theater productions, containing over forty venues showing plays, musicals and operas. The theaters typically play host to over 14 million spectators that view over 18,000 performances each year. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. The 'Gherkin'

    The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' is pictured in the City of London on August 12, 2010. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A day in the park

    Visitors enjoy summer sunshine as they row boats on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. One of King Henry VIII's former hunting grounds, the 350-acre park in the middle of London features more than 4,000 trees, a lake and a meadow. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Bouquets of flowers

    A woman carries sunflowers at the Columbia Road flower market in East London as summer weather hit the United Kingdom on May 24, 2009. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Street art

    A woman walks past street art by Banksy on Pollard Street on Nov. 1, 2007 in London. Recent works of art by Banksy have been bought for hundreds of thousands of pounds by celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The Tower Hamlets Council recently said that they had a duty to remove all graffiti in the area, including anything done by Banksy. However, the public in Bristol recently voted over 90 percent in favor of keeping a piece of graffiti art by Banksy as it was deemed so popular. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. A tribute to a princess

    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
  32. A famous crossing

    Tourists pose for a photograph on the pedestrian crossing at Abbey Road in St. John's Wood, North London on Dec. 22, 2010. The crossing, sited outside Abbey Road Studios in North London and made famous by The Beatles, was designated a site of national importance by the British government. (Andrew Winning / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Brick Lane

    Signs for businesses on Brick Lane, which is synonymous with curry restaurants, on March 16, 2011 in London, England. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. The heart of London

    Summer crowds gather in Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery. At the center of Trafalgar Square is Nelson's Column, which commemorates the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. (George Rose / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A cultural center

    A view down Camden High Street on March 31, 2012 in London. Camden in North London has been one of the city's cultural centers since the 1960s, and is home to the famous Camden Market. The borough is rich in musical heritage with a variety of theatres, art galleries and world famous musical and comedy venues. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Official timekeeper

    The historic Royal Observatory, Greenwich, is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the world, making it the official starting point for each new day and year. (Visit London) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: London 2012 - Famous Landmarks Of Iconic London
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    Above: Slideshow (36) London calling
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    Slideshow (23) A European tour


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