The great escape: Brits flee royal wedding
Wednesday 27 April 2011
While much of Britain grinds to a halt for the royal wedding this week, Susie Cleary will be camping with friends in the wilds of rural Wales, in blissful oblivion.
"We booked it in February. There'll be no television, there will probably be radio but I don't imagine we'll listen," said the 30-year-old lawyer from London.
She is one of millions of Britons who are planning to go on holiday when their compatriots celebrate the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey on April 29.
Some, like her, just want to avoid the whole thing after months of manic media coverage of the preparations for wedding of the son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.
"With all the hype around the wedding it would be a nightmare to be in London in terms of transport and security," added Cleary.
"Also the whole event itself, I am completely not interested, it is a total waste of time, it is really irritating and pointless. I do object to it being forced on me."
Fully 45 percent of Britons are not planning to watch the celebrations, with 32 percent of people saying they would tune in, according to a survey by pollsters YouGov for online travel agent Lastminute.com.
But many people will be taking their vacations at the time of the wedding simply to take advantage of a long break coupling a holiday granted for the occasion with Easter and the May Day public holidays.
"I'm doing it myself," said Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).
"A lot of people have been smart and realised that by taking three days off work you can get an 11-day break."
At least three million Britons are set to travel overseas during the period, according to estimates by ABTA.
Spain is still the favourite destination for British holidaymakers while there are excellent bargains to Egypt and Tunisia following recent revolutions there, it said.
"It's usually a fairly quiet time of year and there is a big increase in the number of people travelling compared to the same period last year," Tipton said.
"It's not just people trying to escape the royal wedding though. You can easily do that by just not turning on the television."
Heather Carswell, a senior executive at the Lonely Planet travel group's London office, said there was no point being stuck in the crowds in London next week for a brief glimpse of the newlyweds.
"I'm not alone in feeling lacklustre about the big day. In my friendship group, the hot topic of conversation since the date of the wedding was announced has been around how best to spend the extra public holiday," she wrote in a blog.
Holiday firms have been advertising special breaks to help people escape the wedding, with two weeks in Mediterranean hotspots such as Turkey and Portugal on offer for well under £200 (228 euros, $325).
Sales are up by an "astonishing" 59.3 percent on the same period last year, said Paul Furner, managing director of online travel agent TravelRepublic.
"The run of bank holidays, and the fact that the royal wedding is being screened and celebrated in lots of places outside of the UK, has been too much to resist," he said.
"Equally, we are also seeing strong demand from those wanting to escape the celebrations completely."
But in austerity Britain, where the Conservative-led government has introduced tough cuts to public services to cut a record deficit, there are also a number of events at home for the wedding shy.
A cultural group promoting Welsh consciousness called Balchder Cymru (Pride of Wales) has set up an "Escape the Wedding Camp".
"We are giving people an opportunity to escape the razzle-dazzle and media hype that will take place," said Adam Phillips, a spokesman for the group.
British newspapers, even those that support the monarchy, have also been advising royal-weary readers how to get away from it all.
The Daily Telegraph suggested the Antipodes Islands off the coast of New Zealand, the nearest land to the spot opposite London on the globe - although as a UNESCO nature reserve it is off-limits to most.
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