London transport agency has no faith in Markle's wedding sparkle

Union Jack flags fill Regent Street days before the wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, in London, on May 16, 2018.
Union Jack flags fill Regent Street days before the wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, in London, on May 16, 2018. PHOTO: NYTIMES

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Transport for London hasn't bought into the Markle Sparkle surrounding the American actress' marriage to Britain's Prince Harry.

In estimating traffic flows to the wedding in Windsor outside London this weekend, the authority has made a bold assumption: no more people will show up than when Prince Harry's father got hitched for a second time in 2005.

The mounting frenzy surrounding the splicing of party-loving Harry, who flew Apache helicopter gunships in Afghanistan, and ex-Suits star Meghan speaks to a different reality - one that could see train stations packed to bursting point and roads snarled with traffic as well-wishers flock to the Berkshire town.

TfL has used data on journeys to Prince Charles' union with Ms Camilla Parker Bowles, also in Windsor, to evaluate how many people plan to celebrate Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle's nuptials, network-operations director Nigel Holness revealed.

He said the 2005 event had "no discernible impact" on travel.

London Assembly members responded by suggesting that the marriage of 33-year-old Harry and 36-year-old Meghan is likely to have more star appeal than the low-key wedding of two divorcees well into their fifties.

"I think the scale is rather different," said Ms Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat who heads the assembly's transport committee, which questioned Mr Holness this week. "This wedding is of interest to significantly more people around the world."

 
 
 

Ms Pidgeon said the event would be more akin to the marriage of Prince William, Prince Harry's brother and second-in-line to the throne, to Princess Kate Middleton in 2011, though that was held at Westminster Abbey in central London.

Labour member Navin Shah also warned Mr Holness that Saturday (May 19) would be a "major day".

TfL told Bloomberg that data from the Charles and Camilla wedding was used as it provided "the only recent comparable event to take place in Windsor".

Prince Charles' first marriage, to Princess Diana Spencer in 1981, took place at St Paul's Cathedral.

Compounding the transport pinch, English soccer's biggest event, the FA Cup Final, kicks off at Wembley in north-west London at 5.15pm on Saturday, hours after Prince Harry and Meghan tie the knot.

The match will be attended by 90,000 people, many travelling from south-west London, where finalist Chelsea is based.

Potential bottlenecks include Paddington and Waterloo, from where trains serve Windsor an hour west of the capital.

TfL oversees subway links to the stations and surface rail and Tube routes to Wembley, though not the Windsor trains.

Ms Pidgeon also took issue with engineering work on some other subway and rail lines, which she said could have been avoided given that the FA Cup Final date was set months ago and the wedding was announced in November.