Hometown pride & privacy

  • Article by: Washington Post
  • Updated: April 27, 2011 - 11:17 PM
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Royal enthusiasts camp across the road from the Westminster Abbey in order to ensure the best viewing spot, for the upcoming royal wedding, in central London, Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton will get married at the Abbey on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis, Associated Press

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BUCKLEBURY, ENGLAND - Prince William fancies mint ice cream! Kate Middleton craves gummy candies!

These are the kind of scintillating details on tap here in Bucklebury, a town 55 miles west of London along narrow, winding roads that on a recent day were blocked temporarily by a slow-walking pheasant.

Middleton grew up in this village, which is famous for being protective of Middleton, who is known mostly as "Kate," though "Catherine" vexingly slips its way into conversations as well. But the town appears to be reconciling a preference for privacy with a natural pride in the local woman whose wedding to Prince William will take place Friday.

Hash Shingadia, a grocer who is attending the wedding, is one of the locals handing out innocuous scraps of details. The first time Prince William popped by his store, he said, the second in line to the throne inquired about Wall's Vienetta mint ice cream.

"Now we make sure it's always stocked for him," Shingadia told journalists from Australia, Belgium, Japan, England and the United States. (He also confirms that Catherine, as he calls her, loves Haribo gummy candies. He sent her a box as a wedding gift.)

Bucklebury, population 2,000, is a discreetly wealthy village with enormous houses on enormous plots of land. It's the kind of place where Prince William can land a Chinook helicopter in the field behind his girlfriend's house and keep it secret from the tabloids -- for two weeks anyway -- in 2008.

But this week "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and CNN's Piers Morgan dropped in.

"I've been totally besieged," said John Haley, 55, who has been pulling pints for 15 years as the owner of the Old Boot Inn, the Middletons' favorite pub. Haley will be at the wedding and then race back for a party at his pub.

The rest of the village is going bonkers, too: Among the events, the village is hosting a fair on the green next to the Middletons', replete with sausages from the butcher (once he returns from the wedding) and duck racing. "Sheep racing is better, but since it's lambing season, we're having ducks," said Simon Kelly, the owner of the Bladebone pub.

WASHINGTON POST

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