LONDON — They came from Arizona, Australia, Brighton, Seattle and Nottingham, among other places. They came because they love the royal family, because they love to eat cake and, in one case, because they had free tickets.
English literature is full of tales of disparate people thrown together for unexpected reasons. But Wednesday afternoon’s gathering was hardly “And Then There Were None.” Rather, it was a 90-minute royal-wedding-and-high-tea-themed bus tour that ended up attracting a full gamut of royalists, anti-royalists and don’t-care-ists who were not always altogether sure what they were doing there.
“The bus tour idea was just a different way of having afternoon tea, while going someplace,” said Sally Saunders, a high school teacher from Wollongong, Australia, who was starting on her first course, featuring mini-shepherd’s pies, cucumber sandwiches and sausage rolls. “The whole point is to drive around London and eat some nice food. As for the royals — whatever.”
Much of Britain is gripped by wedding fever — or by a fever induced by wedding fever — as it awaits the marriage on Saturday of Prince Harry, sixth in line to the throne, and Meghan Markle, who is from the United States and not in line for the throne at all. To capitalize on this singular moment, companies are rolling out new lines of royalty-related goods and services.
The “Royal Tea Bus Tour,” sponsored by Debrett’s, known for publishing a handbook to Britain’s titled families, and B Bakery, a London shop specializing in tasty tea cakes, is one of these.
But across Britain, Meghan and Harry are everywhere.
Keen royalists can, if they fancy, buy items from an officially approved (by Kensington Palace) line of royal-wedding-ware that includes cups, saucers, mugs and plates, along with biscuits, dishrags, Champagne and candles. They can also buy 5-pound coins issued specially by the Royal Mint.
And they can buy royal wedding food and beverages: a chicken sandwich called “The Proposal,” because Harry proposed while the couple was roasting a chicken; a wedding beer called “The Windsor Knot,” referring to the tie-tying knot, and also to the wedding location; special wedding “ginger and sparkle” potato chips, inspired by Harry (ginger) and Meghan (sparkle); and a Burger King wedding sandwich featuring two onion (wedding) rings.
There are Harry-and-Meghan sex toys, Harry-and-Meghan condoms, a royal wedding car, a royal wedding romance novel, royal wedding swimsuits and royal wedding water called “Still Harry” (still water) and “Meghan Sparkle” (sparkling water).