April 25, 2011 — -- From coast to coast, on British and U.S. airlines alike, Americans are heading to Great Britain in droves.
An estimated 600,000 tourists are expected in London this week because of the royal wedding, and many of them are from the United States. The number of Americans visiting London is up 20 percent this month, thanks to Prince William and Kate Middleton, tourism experts say.
Sheree Troy of Lincolnton, N.C., is among them.
"I've followed William since he was born," Troy said. "When Diana died, I really wanted to see him find a woman and fall in love and get married. When this happened, I was like, 'All right.'"
Troy's fascination with the royal family began 30 years ago when she found herself backpacking in London on the eve of the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana. The purchase of a few trinkets quickly blossomed into a sizable collection.
For Troy, being in London during the wedding was something she had to do.
"I want to feel the crowds," Troy said. "I want to come back here and say, 'Oh, we were there."
Also heading to London are Amber and Charlie Mordic of Columbus, Ga. "I think it's going to be one heck of a party," Amber Mordic said. "That's why I'm coming along."
The couple bought their tickets for London soon after the engagement was announced. Now, the self-described royal watchers have turned their women's clothing and accessories store called The Blue Door Boutique into one that specializes in Middleton-themed fashions.
"I owe her a big thank you," Mordic said. "Anything we bill as a Kate item instantly sells out."
This will be a pleasure trip for the Mordics but a business venture for Julie Gambrell of Highlands Ranch, Colo., who's a wedding planner. "The wedding is going to be the wedding of the century," she said. "It's going to impact our industry for years to come."
Gambrell is bringing -- or shall we say dragging -- her husband and two sons along.
"I think my husband would prefer to be in a pub and having a beer and watching it on TV," said Gambrell, who will use the event as research for work.
For most U.S. tourists, the journey won't come cheap. Roundtrip tickets start at about $800 and hotel rooms can cost several hundred a night.
But those looking to cut costs can rough it at Camp Royale, London's official wedding campground. For $121, travelers can camp for three nights and have access to hot showers, clean toilets and free tea. They can also glam up that experience by renting luxury tents -- complete with service -- that start at about $1,800 for three nights.