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Royal Watchers Line Streets To See William, Kate


We're going to go next to NPR's Phil Reeves standing by in London to fill us in on the ceremony that's about to take place.

Phil, good morning.

PHILIP REEVES: Good morning.

INSKEEP: So whats going to happen here? Whats going on in Westminster Abbey?

REEVES: Well, weve been watching over the last hour the arrival of the guests. There are 1,900 in all. Officials say that theyre mostly friends and family. But, of course, when you say family in this context, its not quite the same as it is in (unintelligible). But theres...

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Its not your Uncle Fred. No.

REEVES: Exactly. Theres also a host of dignitaries, and foreign royal families, soldiers, diplomats, governor generals, prime ministers from across the map - places like Jamaica, Barbados, Australia, and some very familiar faces.

Elton John has taken his place in Westminster Abbey. Of course, he has special significance because he performed at the funeral of Williams mother, Diana. Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean to many people, Black Adder to many other TV fans, is expected, probably there, haven't seen him yet. But we have seen David Beckham in Britain, the superstar because of his footballing skills, looking impeccable in a morning suit with his wife at his side.

The Abbey itself looks marvelous. It's a - it really is a resplendent site. There's an avenue of maple trees running along the aisle which has a red carpet on it, and of course when you add to that the history of the place, this is a gothic church full of ancient tombs and memorials from Britain's past, the resting place of many monarchs and memorials there to Winston Churchill and Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

So it really is an extraordinary pageant whether you approve of it or not, it is a magnificent site.

INSKEEP: You say whether you approve it or not. This is a hard time for many people in the world, a hard time for many people in Britain. Does anybody resent the pomp a little bit?

REEVES: Some do, yes. This country's facing the worst public spending, or the deepest public spending cuts since the Second World War, and there is an element who have been critical of the expenditure involved here.

One should point out that the royal family has made it clear that they are actually paying for the wedding, but there's also a massive security operation, Steve, around this, and that will be footed by the taxpayer.

Let's not forget though that from the point of view of the British government, from the United Kingdom, this is a stage for this country to sell itself as a brand, and there will be a substantial return on all this in terms or tourism I suppose, and also business.

INSKEEP: Certainly a lot of economic activity going on. Even the bookies are doing business on what color the queen will wear.

Phil, thanks very much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Phillip Reeves in London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.