LONDON, (AFP) - An elite band of Diana fanatics, knitting grandmothers and self-confessed "weirdo" students camped out Tuesday opposite Westminster Abbey, bagging a prime spot to watch the royal wedding.
John Loughrey, 56, said he was never going to be anywhere else ahead of Friday's big day for Prince William and Kate Middleton.
A self-confessed "super-fan" of William's late mother Diana, princess of Wales, the former assistant chef from south London hit the pavement on Monday to ensure he is one of the first to see the newlyweds emerge from the abbey.
Splayed out on the flagstones with the London traffic roaring past his head, Loughrey held court amid baffled tourists and amused international news crews.
Wearing a "Diana would be proud" t-shirt and waving a British flag emblazoned with the happy couple's engagement portrait, the speed-talking Loughrey was in his element.
"Diana would be proud of her son Prince William and Catherine's marriage with Prince Harry as best man. She will be with them in spirit in Westminster Abbey on their special day and always," he said.
Loughrey camped out for four days for Diana's funeral in 1997 and attended every day of the inquest into her death.
"It's a great day for Britain to be proud," he told AFP. "We're known for this: our royal family, our special events, our eccentrics, we know how to celebrate. No-one does it better than the British people."
He added: "I was the first person here. I am a Diana super-fan. I'm as near as I possibly can be. I will shout 'Diana would be very proud'. I'm hoping to see Catherine's lovely smile."
Loughrey has a specially-commissioned beret to wear on the big day and said there was "no way" anyone would get a look at it early.
A few metres away, media student Lee Price, 22, from Milton Keynes, northwest of London, turned up on the spur of the moment, packing just his phone, his laptop, a few clothes and some money.
"Here I am. A weirdo in the middle of the street in a tent," he told AFP.
Within 10 minutes of pitching his tent, Price was being beamed to television stations around the globe.
"It's history in the making. That's the motivation. I'm going to be here for an iconic moment," he said, adding: "I'm here on stand-by. If Kate wants to leave William at the altar, I'll be here."
To those refusing to join in the fun, Price said: "I wouldn't say I'm much of a royalist but why not celebrate? Why not be positive about something?"
Meanwhile Guen Murray, 76, from Attleborough, eastern England, is a veteran of royal sleepovers. She brought her knitting with her to pass the time.
Murray hit the pavements for Diana's marriage to Prince Charles in 1981, Charles' second marriage to Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005, and Prince Andrew's wedding to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
"We expect to see the happy couple, all the royals and their guests," she told AFP.
She is one of three taking turns to mind the spot and hopes some of her grandchildren will be able to join them.
Armed with a tent, a sleeping bag and bolstered by some hot drinks, she said she simply wanted "to be part of it".
결혼식 보기 위해 노숙하는 런던인들
영국이 세기의 결혼식 준비에 분주한 가운데 이 결혼식을 보기 위해 몰려드는 사람들은 좋은 자리를 차지하려고 벌써부터 진을 치고 있다.
윌리엄 왕자와 케이트 미들턴의 결혼식이 29일 예정된 가운데, 관심이 없어 빠져나가는 300만명을 제외하고 이 결혼식을 보기 위해 몰려드는 60만명은 저마다의 방법으로 결혼식 관람 준비에 한창이다.
결혼식을 보기 위해 몇몇 사람들은 결혼식이 거행 될 웨스트민스터 사원 건너편에 텐트를 치고 자리를 차지하고 있다. 가장 처음으로 이 역사적인 순간을 지켜보겠다는 의지에서다.
도심 한 가운데서 캠핑을 하는 이들 중 다이애나 왕세자빈의 장례식 때도 나흘동안 바깥에서 캠프를 했던 사람도 있었다. 캠핑을 하는 이들의 나이 또한 다양했다. 20대의 젊은 청년이 있는가 하면 70대 노인도 있었다. 한 76세 노인은 AFP통신과의 인터뷰에서 자신은 왕실 관련 일이 있을 때마다 캠핑을 했다고 밝혔다.
로열 웨딩을 보기 위해 캠핑을 하는 이들은 전세계 언론의 관심을 한 몸에 받고 있다.