MEMPHIS — Prince William and (newly single) Prince Harry are expected to spend their weekend in the Bluff City for the wedding of their pal Guy Pelly on Saturday – not that you would know it.
You won’t find throngs of royal-loving locals camped outside the swanky Peabody Hotel, where the princes are staying, according to the local NBC affiliate.
Nor are there any Union Jack-bedecked souvenir stands …
Or teenage girls holding signs with Harry’s face plastered on the front …
Or fascinator-clad ladies hoping to catch a glance of the brothers …
Or anything that suggests two of the biggest VIPs in the world are (possibly) coming to Tennessee.
In fact, it seems to be business as usual in downtown Memphis, where the police presence appears to be focused more on tonight’s Grizzlies-Thunder playoff game and the Memphis In May Beale Street Music Festival, which kicks off Friday.
The Memphis Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that although they have been consulted about a possible royal visit, they can’t confirm any details.
“We have been contacted by Diplomatic Security Corps, which advised that the royal family may be visiting Memphis,” reads their statement obtained by The Commercial Appeal. “The exact dates have not been provided to MPD. Our role as it relates to their potential visit has not been determined.”
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor AC Wharton kept reporters in the dark.
“While it is being widely reported that the royals will be in our city for the wedding, my office has not received official confirmation from the royal family or their representatives,” he revealed. (His office sent a transcript of the press conference to USA TODAY.) “This would be another significant opportunity to showcase our city’s many unique cultural, culinary and historic venues to an international audience through the worldwide press coverage such a visit would likely produce. And I’m sure Memphians will welcome them with our special brand of enthusiasm and authentic southern hospitality.”
Wharton did say, however, that his office is hoping to help the family of the bride – Holiday Inn heiress and Memphian Elizabeth “Lizzy” Wilson – keep the affair as low-key as possible.
“The Wilson family emphasizes that this is a private affair and not an official visit. The City of Memphis is prepared to respond as needed to ensure their visit is fun, interesting and memorable.”
So, it may be lack of verified information rather than lack of enthusiasm that has tempered the mood in Memphis.
“Supposedly when they get here, they’re supposed to be real secretive, so they don’t want a lot of traffic and big security around,” says Marlo Starks, general manager of the Beale Street Gift Shop. “I have been following, and tracking and watching, but as far as (stocking souvenirs), no, I didn’t do that.”
Still, the presence of British royals on U.S. soil makes for lots of chatter, especially in a city as far removed from Buckingham Palace as Memphis.
Rumors have been flying for weeks about a possible royal visit to the city, with local news outlets reporting that the princes’ plane landed early this morning.
There’s also buzz that they will dine at the city’s most well-known barbecue restaurant, Rendezvous, this evening and attend Pelly and Wilson’s rehearsal dinner Friday.
“Whenever the presidents come to town, any dignitaries, that’s where they go,” says Nathaniel Illsley, the doorman at B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street, of the restaurant. “It’s right next to The Peabody, so you don’t have to move them (far). I’m pretty sure that’s where they’re going to go.”
Early reports had William’s wife Kate Middleton along for the trip, but buzz about her joining the brothers has died down following their official visit to Australia, which wrapped just about a week ago.
Mykal Oh, an employee at Flynn’s Restaurant on Beale Street, says should Harry decide to break away from his security detail to party on the famous street, which is akin to New Orleans’ Bourbon, they’d welcome the excitement.
“I would treat him just like a regular customer because everybody’s royalty to me,” Oh says. “I don’t worship no man, or put no man above me just because he has a ‘name.’ Names don’t mean nothing to me, but I would be totally honored to have him here, and we can have a picture of him on our wall.”
However, Londoners Neil and Victoria Springall, on vacation in Memphis, honestly don’t see what all the fuss is about.
“I hate ’em. I do!,” Neil says. “Obviously, because you haven’t got a royal family, you love it, but we’ve had a royal family for years. I think their time is up.”
Wife Victoria says although the royals don’t excite them, she does understand why the visit is causing some excitement.
“It’s quite nice that she’s getting married in her hometown, and it’s nice that they’re reportedly going to go to Graceland and see everything and you’re obviously all really excited,” she says. “We spoke to somebody in one of the gift shops and she’s like, ‘Oh, they’re coming, they’re coming!’ and we’re like, ‘Ugh.’ But, she was really excited, so I think it’s nice.”
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Powered by WPeMatico