LONDON (Reuters) - About 5,500 street parties will be held across Britain to toast next Friday’s wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, although the royal nuptials appear to have failed to excite locals in east London.
Applications for road closures to hold the traditional celebration of state occasions have flooded into councils across the country, and officials say more affluent southern England appears to be more royalist than the poorer north.
The Local Government Association LGA.L said many councils had been inundated with requests for parties, in which streets are adorned with bunting and flags, while locals erect folding tables in the road to share food and drink.
However, the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham, a diverse, working-class area home to many poorer people of immigrant origin, has not received a single application.
“There are a few things going on like parties in community halls, but we haven’t had any applications to close roads,” a spokesman for the council said.
“We haven’t been offering funding for help with royal wedding street parties. That may be a reason.”
Across the capital as a whole, there will be more than 800 such parties while the southeastern counties of Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent, which surround London, have between them also received several hundred requests.
The figures indicate there was less enthusiasm for the community get-togethers outside major cities in the north.
“I think it would be a fair point to say the south is more royalist, well has had more road closure applications than the north,” said a LGA spokesman. “Why that is, we don’t know.”
While Queen Elizabeth, William’s grandmother, remains popular after 59 years on the throne, British royalists have had little to celebrate for two decades, with the royal family more often in the news over divorce, death and scandal.
The LGA said not all parties would require official permission — such as those staged in pubs or parks. It rejected as “ill-founded” government assertions that bureaucracy had deterred some would-be party organisers.
Media reported one woman had been told she would have to take out public liability insurance worth 5 million pounds of she wanted to hold a celebration.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who is hosting a street party outside his official Downing Street residence, has urged councils not to get in their way of people having fun.
“To those councils that are asking small groups of neighbours for licenses, insurance and other bureaucracy my message is clear: don’t interfere, don’t get in the way, and don’t make problems where there are none,” he said.
“And my message to everyone who wants to have a street party is: I’m having one and I want you to go ahead and have one too.”
Editing by Paul Taylor