Diehard royal fans celebrate Kate and William’s nuptials but for most it’s business as usual
Hadley Freeman in New York
guardian.co.uk, Friday 29 April 2011 15.47 BST
“He knocked off my fascinating!” cried Laura Martin, 55, in full evening dress complete with enormous jewelled brooch (“Fake – don’t tell the Queen!”) as she glared at a jogger disappearing towards the Hudson River, before stooping down to pick her fasincator off the sidewalk.
“It’s a fascinate, Laura,” said her friend, in a similarly implausible outfit for 6am. “Fascinate.”
It wasn’t so much a tale of two cities in New York as a tale of two sides of the street. On one side of Greenwich Avenue stores were decked with union flag bunting in preparation for the afternoon’s street party. People took fashion cues from Me and My Girl and Four Weddings and a Funeral queued up outside Lyon restaurant hoping to get inside for the special wedding breakfast with screens set up to allow diners to judge Kate’s dress while they ate fried bread. Any journalist with a British accent was immediately assumed to be a royal expert, even one from the soi-disant republican Guardian.
“We’re not going to have to eat English food, right?” fretted one gentleman outside, topped and tailed. “I just wanna see the wedding.”
Unfortunately for him they did, as it was fry-ups all round. But New Yorker Elizabeth Lang, 51, who was already inside and sporting a tiara, had reassuring words for him: “You know this isn’t too bad – I was worried as I thought the English food would be a little dicey,” she said as she carefully left her baked beans untouched.
“Who’d have thought, a French restaurant doing an English breakfast,” marvelled Ben Mann in a morning suit as he leaned upon his cane, and one of the few Brits to be found.
“It’s not the first time the British have invaded and saved France – 1939 and all that,” smirked Sean Cavanagh-Dowsett, the British owner of the nearby English-themed restaurant and shop, Tea and Sympathy, in full pearly king regalia.
“It’s our job to be English today,” explained Mann.
“It’s such a shame Diana isn’t here,” said Kevin de l’Aigle, an American sporting a union flag t-shirt and Kate’n’Wills badge while he, too, left his baked beans untouched. “But I’m sure she’s here in spirit.”
Actually Diana was there, and celebrating with great enthusiasm: Diana Zorek, age 5.
“I love the wedding! I love princesses!” she announced, and proved it by wearing a Disney princess outfit. But as “really pretty” as she thought Kate Middleton’s wedding dress was, she hadn’t usurped her favourite princess from the top spot: Ariel from the Little Mermaid.
The other side of the street may as well have been a different country. Almost directly opposite the postcard recreation of all things parodically English was a similarly cliched, if more accurate, image of New York: a gym. Young men in various lycra get-ups that would surely permit no ingestion of fried bread jogged on into Equinox gym for early morning workouts, headphones plugged firmly into their ears, blocking out the shrieks from across the street.
“No, I don’t care about the wedding at all to be honest,” said Matthew Reinhardt. “If it’s on the TV screens inside I guess I’ll watch it. Maybe it will help me run faster on the treadmill.”
Back across the street there was no time for republican scepticism: Sean Cavanagh-Dowsett and his wife, Nicky Perry, were organising the afternoon’s street party where fish and chips, cups of tea and someone from Squeeze who wasn’t Jools Holland would be there, apparently representing some vision of Great Britain.
“To us Kate and William are the prince and princess on top of the cake, they’re the happily ever after,” said New Yorker Linda Siciliana in black tie garb, apparently unbothed by the Windsors’ somewhat dubious marital record.
“I think this is such a great day,” said Californian Diana Modica from beneath her Kate Middleton face mask. “How can anyone resist this?”
But by 7am someone was beginning to resist: Diana Zorek, who announced that she was “SO tired” after having risen so early in the morning.
Was she still feeling like a princess?
“Yes,” she replied, falling asleep on her father Michael’s shoulder, oblivious to the jogger running right past her. “Sleeping Beauty.”