In a sign of possible public indifference to the royal wedding, far fewer street parties are being held to celebrate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding than were staged for the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Judging by the number of road closure applications received by the county council, Kent is holding 14 street parties, compared to 182 in 2011 – a drop of 92 per cent.
Hertfordshire, declared the “street party capital” of the UK for mustering the highest county total of 298 celebrations in 2011, is down 83 per cent to 51 street parties in 2018.
As of 3 May, there were 17 street parties requiring road closures planned for the whole of Wales – not even a tenth of the 2011 total of more than 200 celebrations.
And the number of street parties planned in Sheffield has dropped from 31 for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to three for the wedding of Harry and Meghan.
Local government officials have offered varying reasons for the decline in street party numbers, including the fact that Harry, unlike his older brother, is not heir to the throne.
Explaining Sheffield’s falling street party total, Andrew Coombe, lord lieutenant of South Yorkshire, told the BBC: “Prince Harry is very popular and is marrying an extraordinary girl. I think people are probably watching the wedding in a different way this time.
“It’s FA Cup Final day as well so I imagine quite a few people will sit at home and watch the wedding, then the football.”
Elsewhere, however, one local government source told The Independent: “It may be that no-one gives a s**t.”
In 2011 the Local Government Association (LGA) used road closure numbers to estimate that more than 5,500 street parties were held for the Prince William-Kate Middleton wedding.
This week, the LGA said a lack of information from councils had so far prevented it from giving a nationwide estimate of the number of street parties being held on Saturday.
But the known drops in street party numbers leaves little doubt that the nationwide total will be way below the 5,5000 recorded in 2011, which itself was comfortably below the estimated figures for Queen’s 1977 Silver Jubilee and the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Diana.
It has been estimated that 10 million people attended street parties in the UK in 1977 and 1981.
One British city, however, has not seen a drop in street party numbers compared to 2011. Glasgow City Council received no road closure applications for street parties in 2011, and it has maintained that number for 2018.
News of the fall in street party numbers came as a YouGov poll suggested that 66 per cent of British people were “not interested” in the royal wedding, and 60 per cent of them would effectively be ignoring it by spending the weekend normally.
The YouGov poll of 1,615 UK adults found that 31 per cent of respondents were “not very interested” in the wedding and 35 per cent declared themselves “not interested at all”.
By contrast only nine per cent – fewer than one in ten – were found to be “very interested”, with 23 per cent – fewer than one in four – saying they were “fairly interested”.
The 60 per cent who would be having a normal weekend compared to 27 per cent who would be tuning in to at least some of the TV, radio or online wedding coverage.
As controversy continues to swirl about the cost of the wedding and who would be paying, the poll found that 57 per cent of people – more than half – thought the Royal Family should foot the bill for everything, including security.
When asked about where they would want their tax money to go, 76 per cent of people said they would not want it spent on the wedding, while only 15 per cent said that, given the choice, they would be happy for their tax payments to help fund the event.
Graham Smith, of Republic, the anti-monarchist campaign group that commissioned the poll, said: “We’re told this weekend’s wedding is a national celebration. Clearly that’s not true. A country in love with the royals wouldn’t mind paying for the wedding, a nation of royalists would be keenly following the wedding coverage.”
He added: “The royals are running out of fresh ideas and big PR opportunities – now the real debate about this rotten institution must begin. We’re not a nation of republicans yet – but we’ve stopped being a nation of royalists.”
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