Down on the Mall – the tree-lined avenue that joins Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square – they've put out more flags: huge Union Jack banners on each pole, flapping in the coolish wind. Hundreds of metal safety barriers are up -- a double layer of them, unlike 1981, when they did not believe that at least two metres of space were required between royals and commoners -- and they're lined with tents, small brightly coloured one- and two-person numbers.
There's a touch of Scott's last expedition about these strings of pods, with people huddled in, surviving on iron rations (shortbread and Earl Grey) and updating their blogs. There's a lot of teenage girls here, hanging out in an ironic/unironic way, ribbons in their hair, and Wills 'n' Kate T-shirts ironically punked up. The occasional teenage boy hanger-on with them, hoping that some of the overflow of pagan fertility rite will slop his way.
But above all, it's women of a certain age, tending the flame and putting on the kettle -- cheerfully mad, decked out in red, white and blue plastic boaters, and wearing Wills 'n' Kate tea-towels like capes, conferring superpowers. In any tribe though, the father may well give away the bride, the means by which it is done is secret women's business.