Alexandre Meneghini/AP/File
In this Feb. 18 file photo, Mexican citizen Estabalis Chavez paints a portrait of Britain's Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton outside the British Embassy in Mexico City.

Royal wedding mania takes hold from Mexico to Missouri

A Mexican teenager staged a hunger strike in her quest to see the royal wedding. Others have quit jobs and are camping out to get a glimpse of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday.

Royal fans are sleeping outside Westminster Abbey, an American woman quit her job to travel to London, and many more anglophiles are planning "royal dinner" parties, buying up commemorative tchotchkes, or planning to wake up in the middle of the night to watch live Friday as Prince William weds Kate Middleton. Clearly, royal fervor has hit a fever pitch.

Perhaps the most dramatic example comes from a slum north of Mexico City, where tenacious teenager Estabalis Chavez staged a 16-day hunger strike in front of the British Embassy to get on the wedding invite list. The British government refused her wish, but a Mexican lobbyist funded her flight to London last week. Even though she didn't make the guest list, Ms. Chavez is trying to reach the abbey by Friday.

While more than 1 billion people are expected to watch the royal wedding, billions more will collectively shrug over the nuptials. And, in Mexico, Chavez's case has stirred a mini-controversy, with many saying it's example No. 1 of wedding mania gone awry.

The Mexican daily El Universal drew mostly scorn and sarcasm from readers when it ran a story about Chavez's hunger-strike-turned-European-vacation. “Everyone let’s go on a hunger strike so we can go to the Real Madrid Barcelona game. Let’s start at 4 p.m. today,” wrote one commenter.

“She was not invited. She has no family in England,” says Arazely Zavala, a Mexico City resident. “She could watch the wedding just as easily at home in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn.”

Octavio Fitch Lazo, the lobbyist who paid for her flight, faces criticism, too. “He could have used that money for something more important like giving it to an institution or a school,” says Ms. Zavala.

And while the wedding might cap off a fairy tale romance, Chavez’s adventure may not end happily ever after. Last Friday, after landing in London, she was refused entry by British authorities for lacking funds and a secure place to stay, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Fitch told the wire service that she would be allowed into England if someone picks her up from the airport. She was sent to Madrid, where she had a stopover and is reportedly appealing to journalists in Madrid to help her in a new attempt.

The more than 600,000 tourists expected to arrive in London by Friday for the big day will probably have an easier journey than Chavez. But a few of them have made their own sacrifices, too. Teresa Cunningham from Butler, Mo., a told KMBC in Kansas City that she quit her job after her employer refused to give her time off to travel to London.

Meanwhile, John Loughrey has been camping outside of Westminster Abbey since Monday to ensure a spot for the festivities, he told Reuters. A longtime fan of the late Princess Diana, he grabbed his spot at exactly 5 p.m., when Big Ben chimes five times, spelling out D-I-A-N-A.

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