In picturesque Windsor, in the shadow of the castle where Queen Elizabeth II spends her weekends, a dozen homeless people shelter from the cold in a jumble of blankets and cardboard boxes.
But with less than five months to go until the May 19 wedding of her grandson Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle in the mediaeval castle’s chapel, the local authority’s bid to sweep the homeless off the streets has triggered indignation.
Simon Dudley, the Conservative leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council, has urged the local Thames Valley Police force to take action against their “aggressive begging and intimidation”.
“A large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless,” he wrote in a letter, while those that were genuinely homeless had rejected secure accommodation in order to keep begging.
“This is creating a concerning and hostile atmosphere for our residents and the seven million tourists who come to Windsor each year.”
The level of interest in Windsor, some 20 miles (35 kilometres) west of London, is “set to multiply” ahead of the royal wedding, he added.
According to the business valuation consultancy Brand Finance, the event should draw hundreds of thousands of extra tourists to the town, normally home to just 30,000 people, in 2018.
The British economy could be set to benefit to the tune of o500 million ($680 million, 565 million euros), they claimed.