Royal Friday: Bhangra, street parties planned across UK

Updated: Apr 29, 2011, 12:04 PM IST

London: Bollywood-style dancing and Bhangra music will be among the many ways in which Britons will celebrate the royal wedding tomorrow in thousands of street parties organised across the country.

Street parties, a great British tradition for over a century, have also been organised by people who are opposed to the institution of monarchy.

In the past, such parties have been linked with royal and other national events. A `street party` is organised by and for residents on the street where they live, promoting a community spirit.

Organised by people who cannot make it to London for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, street parties will mean many streets and roads will be closed for traffic tomorrow, including in London.

Virendra Sharma, the Labour MP from Ealing Southall, has written to residents of Southall to celebrate the event with street parties.

Members of Kate Middleton`s family lived in Clarence Street years ago. He said the day will be celebrated by Asian drummers, dance and bhangra music.

Similar events have been scheduled by the Asian community in Bradford, Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester.

Over 5,500 formal road closures (825 in London) have been arranged by local councils to facilitate traffic-free events.

Eric Pickles, the Communities secretary, said: "Royal wedding street parties are a great British tradition. So if folks want to get together to organise a street party to celebrate next year`s wedding, we have made it as easy as
possible to do so without endless form filling."

According to Chris White, chair of the Local Government Association`s Culture, Tourism and Sport Programme Board, councils across the country have pulled out all the stops to make organising royal wedding street parties as easy as possible.

Chris Gittins, Director of Streets Alive, said: "This tradition is so great for the country for building a sense of community spirit at the street level.

"Residents meet an average of eight new neighbours, our research has shown. Also, most residents, up to 85 per cent, attend which is unique compared to any other type of event."

Some local councils such as the Scarborough Borough Council provide training course for people who want to organise street parties. Matthew Joseph, the council`s community and development officer, said: "What we want to do is get back to the feeling in the `50s with the Coronation and Charles and Diana`s wedding in the early `80s, where everyone came

"It`s about letting people know that we are here to help and that the process is not as daunting as they may think".

Those opposed to the institution of monarchy have also planned events.

Republic, a group that campaigns for a democratic alternative to the monarchy, has organised `Not the royal wedding` street party tomorrow.

However, the police are likely to remove the group`s anti-monarchy posters.

Republic spokesperson Graham Smith said: "Republicans have every right to make their voice heard on the day of the royal wedding, and the police have a fundamental duty to protect that right. The idea that political dissent should be silenced in order to protect the image of the royals goes against every democratic principle."