Oprah a No-show at Bucklebury, But Locals Still Revel In Wedding Fever

Kate Middleton's hometown bustling with excitement, expecially those who received an invite.

By , Contributor

Rosie DiManno

Hash Shingadia, owner of local variety store in Bucklebury, also invited. Seen here with his 11-year-old daughter Maya.  

BUCKLEBURY -- The heck with Kate. They've come for Oprah.

A princess-to-be is all fine and well but locals descended Easter Monday on The Old Boot Inn - favored drinking hole hereabouts for Kate Middleton and the Prince of Wales - hoping for a gander at the Queen of Television.

Word had quickly spread that The Big O was going to grace this charming Berkshire village, home of the Middleton clan, with her presence.

Alas, Oprah Winfrey merely sent a crew and one of her on-air adjutants to do the chatting.

"Where's Oprah?'' asks John Haley, proprietor of the pub, clearly crestfallen.

"She's too busy today so she sent me,'' trills Carson Kressley, the swishy bronze-buffed fashion expert who co-hosts a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Kressley rubs his hand against the beer taps on the beer. "Oh, these are so cute!''

He orders "whatever Kate usually has'' and, when Haley explains William's squeeze doesn't have "a usual,'' asks for a Pimms instead, eschewing the "Wedding Ale'' special that's produced at a brewery two kilometres away.

Haley compliments Kressley on his rather mummifying TV make-up. "I think I'm falling in love with you,'' the landlord observes drily.

Kressley: "Ooh, I never thought I'd be picked up in a pub!''

Outside, an NBC crew waits its turn at the publican.

Haley is among the lucky few to have received an invitation to the spectacle nuptials. He's bought a present but won't reveal what it is. What to get a prince and his princess-in-waiting? A toaster? A set of silver candlesticks? A gift card for Tesco?

"Well, I can give them a free dinner for four,'' Haley teases. "Maybe they can bring the Queen with them.''

Carole and Michael Middleton, self-made millionaires as operators of mail-order company Party Pieces, have invited 254 relatives and friends to the wedding, their share of the 1,900 who will fill Westminster Abbey on Friday. Their list includes the postman, the butcher, and the chap who owns the Bucklebury convenience store where Kate buys sweets. Not quite the King of Tonga but not as controversial as Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UK either.

A veritable rogue's gallery of despotic leaders or their repressive regime reps are among those who will lower their tushes into the seats at Westminster Abbey on Friday. Prince Charles has summoned a slate of billionaires too, proving that it is indeed possible to social climb up if one's wallet is fat enough. Pity there was no space for some of Diana's closest friends, at least not those who were apparently nasty about Camilla post-marriage bust-up. That might explain the absence of Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Rosa Monckton, both significant adults in the life of the young William but apparently now erased from royal memory.

Weddings are payback time.

At least the Middletons have been democratic about recognizing neighbours from the bucolic - and affluent - village.

"Never in my wildest imagination did I dream I would be attending a royal wedding,'' marvels Hash Shingadia, the convenience shop owner, as he shows off his gold-embossed invitation. "That says a lot about the family, that they would invite an ordinary person like me.''

Shingadia will be attending - in morning coat, which he's rented - with his wife, though 11-year-old daughter Maya has begged to go along. "I can sit on your lap!''

Shingadia burbles with enthusiasm for the 29-year-old princess-pending. "She's been so cool and collected, always smiling. Most important, she'll make William a good wife and, some day, a fine queen.''

Martin Fidler, the butcher, recalls discovering a big white envelope in the mail.

"My wife was on the phone when it arrived. I yelled at her, 'Get off the phone and come have a look at this!'''

Wife Sue has, naturally, bought a new frock and a fascinator for the occasion, "even though I'm not really a hat person.''

The couple has known Kate since she was a little girl.

Says Sue, "She's scrumptious, a stunner inside and out.''

And, unlike Sarah - ex Merry Wife of Windsor - likely never to show up on Oprah's couch.

View gallery: Kate Middleton's Hometown of Bucklebury Bustles with Excitement

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Rosie's a columnist with the Toronto Star, Canada's largest circulation daily newspaper. She's covered the royals since 1982. Rosie functions as a news columnist, foreign correspondent, war correspondent, and sports columnist and photographer, as well as, multi-tasker.

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