AS some 1,900 specially invited people prepare to descend on a rather magnificent building in the heart of London for a special occasion today (Friday), a vastly larger number of folk have been fleeing the country.

These are the ones who saw the extra one-off bank holiday as an opportunity to get away from the reason for it being granted.

They have skipped abroad in a clear demonstration that the royal wedding (the wedding of the century, until the next one involving the first of Prince William’s yet to be born male off-spring comes along) is not the big, unite the nation event it is cracked up to be.

A fortnight ago, a survey revealed that one in five Brits did not know the royal wedding date. With all the publicity there has been lately in the press and on TV, there can’t be many now who are unaware of it.

One figure which remains about the same concerns those who are planning to watch the Westminster Abbey ceremony on TV – only about a third of us.

Just over one in 100 people intend making a party of it while less that one per cent aim to go to London to be part of the crowd.

But it is reckoned that over two million adults are using this year’s bank holiday bonanza to leave the royal wedding celebrations far behind, the majority of them flying off on holiday abroad, shelling out around �2 billion on their trips.

Interestingly, Prince William need not worry too much about two-thirds of the population forsaking the chance to watch the ceremony on TV as research shows that he is the most popular choice to be the next king ahead of his father.

More than half of those questioned said they would prefer the young royal to be the next monarch rather than Prince Charles who got just a quarter of the vote.

It is all a bit worrying for the Prince of Wales who has just “celebrated” becoming the longest-serving heir apparent by beating the previous record of 59 years, two months and 13 days set by his great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII.

Prince Charles has been ready to take over since he was three but his mother is in rude good health as she comes up to her 85th birthday and I for one, and I suspect the vast majority of the nation, do not expect her to abdicate in favour of her eldest son as she homes in on Queen Victoria’s record of 64 years on the throne. I can see her beating it and going on for much longer, which means the prince in waiting will be a pensioner before he can take the position of head of state.

I wonder whether the topic will arise among guests during the post-wedding celebrations. It is more likely there will be a diplomatic silence on the subject.