Royal Wedding Camp Out: TIME Meets the “Diana Super Fan” Outside Westminster Abbey

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REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Photographers and cameramen film royalist John Loughrey outside of Westminster Abbey ahead of Prince William's wedding to Catherine Middleton. Mr Loughrey blew up his mattress after these photos were taken.

The royal wedding bells don’t toll for another 48 hours, but a squatter village has already popped up on the sidewalks adjacent to Westminster Abbey. And last night, NewsFeed waded through the tents and cozied up with the man at the front of the line: John Loughrey, the Diana Super Fan.

Loughrey, 56, earned the moniker after he quit his job as a chef in 2007 so that he could attend all 89 sessions of the inquest into the death of Princess Diana. He rented out his flat in south London and moved in with his sister to save money, and woke up every day at 4:30am to reserve his place in the courtroom.

A self-described “Diana supporter,” he’s come to the Abbey to honor her memory by cheering on the future King and his bride. His red, white and blue inflatable mattress covered with Kate and Wills commemorative flags suggests a bit of whimsy. But dig deeper and his emotions make clear that the event has taken on a spiritual quality for him. “Diana would be very proud of her son Prince William and his marriage to Catherine,” he says. “She will be with them in spirit at Westminster Abbey on their special day and always.” Here are some of the highlights of our chat.

NewsFeed: How long have you been here?

Loughrey: I came here on Monday, April 25, the bank holiday. I was planning to come Tuesday, but Big Ben changed it for me. Big Ben chimed his bells at 5 o’clock in the evening, precisely as I got out of the taxi. I thought about Diana, and I spelled her name D-I-A-N-A [five letters]. That was very touching for me. That’s why I’m here now.

That means you’ve been here for 24 hours. Have you eaten?

I’ve just had my first meal today. Somebody brought it to me. People will look after me. I’m going to be here celebrating Prince William and Catherine’s marriage. This is my own little dream. I can imagine them coming out of Westminster Abbey with her lovely dress—silky, creamy white, with colored flowers going down her veil. When she comes out the crowd will say, ‘We love you William. We love you Catherine. Give us a kiss!’”

Will they do it?

“They may tease, but they won’t. They’ll give that kiss especially for his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, where she and Charles did all those kisses years ago in 1981. Princess Diana will be with them in spirit on the balcony. She’ll give them a special hug. They may feel the presence.”

Are you concerned for your safety?

This is the safest place you could be in the world right now.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of the world’s most beautiful tiaras)

Rain is forecast for the big day, but you’ve not brought a tent. Have you prepared for that?

No. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t mind if it rains on me. I don’t want it to rain on Catherine or William. I want it to be a nice day so people can celebrate with their flags, and express joy. The flags will fly. The British flag, the French flag, the Swiss flag, the Australian flag, the German flag. That’s what this is all about. Waving flags and having a big party later at Buckingham Palace.  I’m not really a drinker, but I may have a drop of some drink if someone offers me, and I will dance for them outside of Buckingham Palace.

Have you always been such a big supporter of the royal family?

Both of my parents were royalists. I’ve always loved them. I’ve got a passion for them. They’ve got a great history. They do things for us, and we do things for them.

What have they done for you?

We’ve got these beautiful churches built from the Normans. If it wasn’t for the royal family we wouldn’t have any churches. We wouldn’t have green spaces. We wouldn’t have Green Park or Hyde Park. The monarchy owns them and they also bring tourists to see our beautiful buildings like Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle and many other things.

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s photo-essay: “Wills and Kate: A Royal Courtship”)

Does it annoy you that the media call you the Diana Super Fan?

I like to be called one of Diana’s many supporters. Diana Super Fan has only stuck with me because the press has named me that, and I can’t unwrap that. It’s with me forever.

Would Diana approve of Kate?

Diana would absolutely adore her. You can’t compare the marriage. Diana was only 19 when they married. William has done it differently. He’s done it in stages and they’ve come together slowly, like two swans. There will be no scandals in this relationship. I’d like it if they have a daughter in the next six moths to a year and it’d be nice if they could call her Diana somewhere in the middle. Or if it’s a son, name him Spencer. That’d be very touching.

Final question: what are you doing about toilet breaks?

That’s my problem at the moment. There is a public loo around the corner here, so I may need to use that or go to a pub. I’m waiting for someone I know and can trust. Not friends, but other people who are coming here to support Diana.

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s special coverage of the royal wedding)

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