Royal wedding draws local interest

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | APRIL 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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Maggie Landon is prepared for the royal wedding.

The University of Iowa freshman and her friends have stocked up on Redbull and Starbucks to ready themselves for a long night waiting to see the prince and soon-to-be princess head for the altar.

"I've always liked weddings, and the fact that this one's royal makes it that much cooler," Landon, 19, said. "I guess you could say it's going to be an all-nighter because there's be a ton of coverage after the morning."

An estimated 2 billion people from around the world will tune in to watch Kate Middleton become a princess after marrying Prince William of Wales at Westminster Abbey in London today.

The United Kingdom is filled with anticipation to watch their future queen and king today — and that excitement has traveled thousands of miles away to Iowa City.

Despite the inconvient time slot — the wedding is set to start at 5 a.m. in Iowa — many local residents and University of Iowa students say they plan to watch the wedding unfold on TV.

UI junior Kristin Callahan, a former Daily Iowan employee, she plans to watch the wedding; she plans to record it on her DVR. The 21-year-old said she is interested in the royal affair because of her respect and admiration for the late Princess Diana, William's mother.

The idea that the soon-to-be princess was once an ordinary student before meeting William at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland is also appealing to many.

"Of course, everyone wants to be named 'princess,' " Callahan said.

That many Americans are interested in the royal wedding, even though it has nothing to do with their own country, is not surprising, experts said. A recent Nielsen study shows the American media have covered the royal wedding more frequently than the media in the United Kingdom.

UI history Professor Jeffrey Cox said the royal wedding is an elevated celebrity affair — one with a long and dramatic history — and audiences are likely to wonder if this marriage will work, unlike that of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. And Americans are interested in the wedding and marriage, he said, in part because this monarchy once ruled our country, as well.

"It brings kind of a mixture of British patriotism and kind of public celebrity all in one show," Cox said.

Jane Singer, a UI associate professor of journalism and mass communication, said the "fairy-tale" aspect attracts many people to the pomp and circumstance.

During Singer's Online Journalism class on Thursday, students browsed news outlets' websites, including the BBC, People, and Time and compared coverage of William and Kate's very public romance.

"He's a prince, and she's a commoner," Singer said at the end of class. "They fell in love, and it's a very sweet fairy-tale story."

The wedding and everything that went into it serves as a historic spectacle for the Brits — and a distraction from issues like the weak British economy, she said.

"Most of the country doesn't live like this," Singer said. "I think it's appealing to watch, and it's an excuse to party and is kind of a happy occasion."

But the newly married couple will have a lot to live up to, she said.

"[The couple's] honeymoon may last, but the honeymoon might not last for the British people," Singer said. "There is a sense of 'what is the role of the monarchy?' I think that Kate and William have to show why the institution is relevant."

To celebrate the spectacle, the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., scheduled a royal wedding watch party for 5 a.m. today, complete with coffee, tea, and a wedding cake.

Maeve Clark, the information-services coordinator for the library, said attendees can watch the nuptial ceremony on a big screen because the volunteers thought it would be a fun way to enjoy the event.

"It's something people are vicariously living through, and whether you agree with the expense of it or if it is over the top or not, it's just something," she said. "A cultural phenomenon some people get swept up in."

And Clark is doubly excited, she said, because today is not only Will and Kate's wedding day, it's her birthday.

"I'm sure that's why I wasn't invited," she joked. "They didn't want to take away from my party."

DIreporter Luke Voelzcontributed to this article.

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