As Windsor gears up for Saturday’s royal wedding, some local residents are loving the party buzz, while others are sick of the whole shebang.
The streets are lined with barricades, armed police are on patrol and even more tourists than usual are packing the historic town’s pavements.
People in the genteel Berkshire town are well used to royals and coachloads of sightseers coming and going — but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in Windsor Castle has ramped up the hoopla.
“It’s a bloody pain in the backside,” said Michael Mannix, enjoying a pint and a smoke outside a Windsor pub.
“All my buses are going to be stopped,” the 71-year-old said.
“It’s too much fuss. It’s chock-a-block. TV vans,” he said, pointing at an Irish satellite truck.
“I’m not into the royalty. I’m not even coming into town on Saturday. I’ll probably do a bit of gardening.”
Marjorie Lomas, 77, was also planning on staying away, but for different reasons.
“The atmosphere will be brilliant, electric, but I’ll just watch it on the television because I know what it’s like with all the crowds,” she said.
“It’s a great boost, instead of having it in London. It’s all in the papers about Windsor, which is good. A lot of tourists will come.”
She had a top tip for beating the crowds: get in early.
“If you come when all the coachloads come in, you deserve it,” she said.
– Once in a lifetime –
Windsor young mums Sarah Parsons and Jilly Goodwin were strolling their prams up the Long Walk — the grand, tree-lined avenue to the castle, and the culmination of Harry and his bride’s carriage route.
“We’ve come to soak up the atmosphere,” said Parsons.
“It’s once in a lifetime for us.”
Goodwin said: “We’re not coming on the day with little ones — it’s going to be bonkers,” with Parsons adding that lots of locals would be staying at home watching on television and enjoying a barbeque.
Besides the trees, the Long Walk is now lined with green-camouflaged camera gantries, pop-up TV studios, mobile bars, ice cream vans and busy-looking US television crews.
“It’s just fun. It’s really quite exciting that it’s Windsor and not London,” said Goodwin.
“It’s nice people-watching and seeing stuff going on other than the regular coachloads,” she said, over the roar of planes coming into London Heathrow Airport flying directly overhead.
– ‘Load of cobblers’ –
Some residents with homes overlooking the procession route have cashed in, renting out their flats to media networks for vast sums.
Flag-bedecked royal superfans are camped out in the prime spots, while disconcerting cardboard cut-outs of the happy couple grin from upstairs windows.
Not everyone is impressed with the circus coming to town as tourists, sniffer dogs and camera crews poke their noses into everything going.
“It’s the biggest load of cobblers,” said Bill Rawling, 71, as he sat at a bus stop.
“Buckingham Palace is geared up for all this — why not use that, why come here? It’s just farcical.
“The cost is going to be way out of range. The extra tourists won’t begin to pay for it.
“It’s going to end up as a great anti-climax.
“In Waitrose, there’s a guy taking pictures of the sandwiches, one of the paps. It’s starting to get stupid.”