Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Hunger striker gets wedding ticket

A Mexican teenager with an extreme case of royal wedding fever has ended a hunger strike after a knight in shining armour offered to pay her airfare to London.

Estibalis Chavez, 19, had spent 16 days fasting in a bid to get an invitation to the wedding. Now she will at least get to watch the festivities from outside Westminster Abbey, thanks to the voluntary donation.

Ms Chavez, studying for her high-school equivalency degree, drew public attention in February when she camped in a tent outside the British Embassy in Mexico City for more than two weeks, hoping her perseverance would get her invited to the gala wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, but she was unsuccessful.

Then a man who happened to walk by her lonely protest camp came forward to lend her the money for a flight to London. "It moved me to see that no one understood her very well... I think she is right to fight for what she wants," said Octavio Fitch Lazo, a member of an association that is lobbying Mexico's congress to adopt silver coinage.

While it remains doubtful Ms Chavez will be able to get inside Westminster Abbey, Mr Fitch picked the teen up at her home in the slums north of Mexico City and took her to the airport for her flight to Europe.

Ms Chavez's mother died giving birth to her, and all the teenager knew about her mother was how much she loved Princess Diana, Prince William's mother. Since she was a little girl, Ms Chavez read as many books about the royal family as she could. Her books, drawings and paintings of princes and princesses decorate the family's small house.

When Ms Chavez heard about the royal engagement, she began planning a way to get to the wedding. In early February, Ms Chavez left the hilly working-class neighbourhood where she was raised by her aunt and her father, and took a bus to the neighbourhood where the British Embassy sits. She described the first three days of her hunger strike as "horrible". For 16 days, all she drank was water, and she lost 19lb.

Then came the rejection letter, written by Chris Kealey, assistant private secretary to Prince William. It said all invitations had gone out already and there were no spots for her. But the teen's luck changed when Mr Fitch, whom she had met while camping outside the embassy, contacted her and said he would lend her the money and book her flight.

Even after the rejection, Ms Chavez has not given up hope of getting an invitation once she is in London. She also wants to give William and Kate the portrait she painted of them.

Yet, amid the happiness, there are anxieties. Ms Chavez worries she might be flagged by British customs as a danger to the royal family. "I feel nervous," she said.


From Belfast Telegraph