London: Not invited to Kate and William`s
wedding? Fear not. For a price, royalist romantics can follow
in the happy couple`s footsteps on a London walking tour.
Among the hundreds of British firms hoping for a boost
in business because of April`s royal wedding is Celebrity
Planet, a London-based travel company offering a tour of sites
with links to Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton.
The two-hour amble through a wealthy swath of London
charts the highs and lows of the royal romance as breathlessly
reported in the UK`s tireless tabloid media. One of the first
stops is a branch of Jigsaw, the clothing chain where
Middleton was working as a part-time accessories buyer in 2007
when William got cold feet and broke off their relationship.
"It was while she was working here that she got the
dreaded call from Prince William saying he just wasn`t that
interested," said Umezawa, 25. "She burst into tears in front
of all her colleagues."
More insights are on hand down the road outside
Mahiki, a nightclub favoured by the young and wealthy, and by
paparazzi hoping to see them behaving badly - and where
tabloids reported Prince William racked up a bar bill of
11,000 pounds in a week after the break-up.
Fortunately for the British economy, by the end of
2007 the on-off romance that began when the couple were
students at St Andrew`s University was on again.
The announcement of their engagement in November
unleashed a flood of business opportunities. Mills and
potteries from China to Stoke-on-Trent have produced vast
volumes of plates, tea towels and other commemorative
Tourist authority Visit Britain expects a surge in
visitors this year because of the wedding, and airlines have
already reported a boost in bookings out of the country for
what will be a long weekend for most Britons. The government
has made the day of the wedding - Friday, April 29 - a public
Neil Saunders, consulting director at retail analysts
Verdict, has estimated the economic kick from the wedding
could reach USD 1 billion.
The royal tour is a new offering for Celebrity Planet,
which runs "celebrity and pop-culture tours" in London, New
York and several European cities. It’s most popular London
offerings include a Beatles walk and tours devoted to Harry
Potter and Jack the Ripper.
The Kate and William walk stops at London landmarks
like St James`s Palace - the residence of Princess William and
Harry - and Westminster Abbey, where the prince and Middleton
will be married by the Archbishop of Canterbury in front of
more than 2,000 guests.