LONDON (Reuters) - For some fans, no distance or discomfort is too great if the prize is a prime view of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Some 200 people were already camped out on Thursday across the street from Westminster Abbey where the couple will tie the knot the following day. Dozens of tents have been set up, but despite a chilly breeze some fans are making do with just mats or sleeping bags.
Sheree Zielke, 55, came from Canada to see the wedding.
“I’m a romance novelist so I had to come for the most romantic event in the world,” she said. “I don’t have a tent. It’s very cold but it’s worth it.”
Many campers have decorated their tents and chairs with Union Jack flags and pictures of the couple. Metal barriers in front of them are adorned with banners reading “It could have been me,” “It’s cold but worth it” and “Congratulations to the happy couple.”
These are just a few of the tens of thousands expected to line the procession route the couple will take from the abbey to Buckingham Palace after the wedding service on Friday.
VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, is predicting an extra 600,000 tourists in the capital on the day, meaning there would be a total of some 1.1 million visitors with 40 percent of those coming from abroad.
Cindy Sagar, from Oxford, has been camping outside the abbey since Wednesday evening.
“I went to Charles and Diana’s wedding and it was electric — it was one of the best days of my life,” she said.
Another devotee, Jane Collin, may not be camping but she too came all the way from Canada on Wednesday.
“It’s not just that I’m a royal fan, I’m an England fan. I wanted to be here for what will be such an important day,” the 57-year-old said. “I want to be in front of Buckingham Palace for the kiss, so I’ll be going there tomorrow.”
For others, enthusiasm for the royals runs in the family.
Terry Ross, a taxi driver from Essex, said he and his wife would come to the abbey early on Friday.
“We were there for Charles and Diana so there is no way we could miss Wills and Kate,” he said.
London and Partners, the agency that promotes the city, said it expected there would be 600,000 people lining the streets on the day, the same number as came to watch the 1981 wedding of William’s parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Some of these fans — such as Jessica Spence who is originally from Zimbabwe but lives in London — will be there for one simple reason.
“I want to see all the royal family but I especially want to see Kate and her dress,” the 23-year-old said.
Writing by Olesya Dmitracova, editing by Paul Casciato