By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON — There’s still a month to go until the royal wedding and yet some Britons are already asking: Is it over yet?
While millions around the world are following every detail of the wedding planning — the guest list, the cake, the carriage, the dress — others are desperately trying to tune it out.
In the British press, scores of stories about the April 29 nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton sit alongside grimmer news: An earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, war in Libya, and a diet of spending cuts, job losses and inflation in Britain.
It’s no surprise many people are not in a party mood.
“I’m tired of hearing all about it,” said Andreas Dopner, 24, a postgraduate researcher at London’s Imperial College. “You see it on television, the Internet, everywhere. I don’t believe in having a royal family and I think the money could be spent better elsewhere.”
For many British businesses, the wedding is good news. International interest in the nuptials and the predicted pro-Britannia “feel-good factor” will bring in extra tourists, giving a boost to hotels, restaurants, shops and royal-related tourist attractions.
But there also will be an exodus, with several million Britons heading abroad, thanks to the lucky timing of the wedding day — a holiday for most — between the Easter weekend and the May Day public holiday. Clever employees quickly calculated they could get an 11-day break by taking only three days off work.
“I’ve booked it myself for that very reason,” said Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents, which has seen a surge in overseas bookings for the wedding period.
Those still in Britain on April 29 will find central London bedecked with Union Jacks, tens of thousands gathering along the wedding procession route, millions watching on TV — and millions more trying to ignore it.
“It tends to be kind of an older-generation event,” said London student William Dobson, 19. “Young people are much more interested in having a good weekend rather than seeing the wedding.”
Even for the uninterested, the wedding may be hard to avoid. But for those determined to do so, alternatives are available.
A Welsh Nationalist group, unimpressed with English royal excess, is holding an “Escape The Wedding Camp” in the countryside for those who really want to get away from it all. A theater company in northeast England is staging a reading of “Cinderella 2,” the story of a fairytale romance gone sour.
In southwest England, Bristol’s Trinity community arts center is holding an Alternative Royal Wedding Party featuring children’s games, DJs and a fake-wedding service allowing guests to get hitched to a friend or a stranger.
Center manager Emma Harvey said the royal wedding was not uppermost in the minds of residents of the ethnically diverse, economically deprived area.
“It’s not necessarily a massive thing on people’s radar,” she said. “There is a sense that it is quite a decadent occasion.”
Others wish Kate and William well, but are sick of the commercialization and the hype surrounding the wedding. No detail, it seems, is too small to be celebrated — the palace released video of cakes being made for the wedding, one of which is a fruit cake that gets better with age.
Windows of gift shops across the land too are packed with mugs, plates, key chains and ashtrays, some of it downright tacky.
One London art gallery has retaliated with a display of Kate-and-William sick bags, designed by artist Lydia Leith and screen printed with images of the happy couple in regal purple and gold.
Ellie Phillips, who helps run the Jealous Gallery, said it had sold dozens of the bags, intended as a comment on “the whole tacky merchandise” side of the wedding.
“We’re not anti the event itself,” she said. “It’s a nice happy thing that brings lots of people together. It’s just the way it’s been so rapidly commercialized and turned into an opportunity to turn out so many poorly made, cheap, tacky things.”
Royal wedding apathy is music to the ears of Republic, a group that has campaigned for years to persuade Britons to scrap the monarchy. It senses a change in the air, and hopes thousands will attend an irreverent “Not the Royal Wedding” street party in central London on April 29.
Republic spokesman Graham Smith said deference for the monarchy has withered since Queen Elizabeth II took the throne almost six decades ago, and since a rapt nation watched Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981. That union produced princes William and Harry but ended in an embarrassing, acrimonious divorce.
“I think people are responding with a giant shrug,” Smith said. “This is not 1981, it’s not 1952. It’s 2011 and people have better things to worry about.”
Aaron Edwards in London contributed to this report.
Official royal wedding site: http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/
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