For the handful of businesses and nonprofits expecting a visit from Prince William and his wife, Catherine, this week presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet two of the world’s most famous royal celebrities.
But not all Somerville residents are excited about their arrival.
Sure, the royal couple will brought some positive attention to Greentown Labs, an incubator for startups that aim to tackle the climate crisis with tech-fueled innovation, when they swung through the city as part of their three-day visit on Thursday.
But at what cost?
“Bad day to go to Market Basket,” one resident wrote on a Reddit page for happenings around Somerville. “I bet the traffic will be terrible.”
“And that Market Basket is crazy [to] begin with,” another person quipped.
Greentown Labs, a hub for more than 100 “climatech” companies, is just a few doors down from the grocery store’s location on Somerville Avenue. The royal couple’s plans to meet with industry leaders there left locals fearful that traffic would be snarled on side streets, and their beloved Market Basket would be inaccessible.
“How many inches of snow forecast are the royals worth?” one person asked ahead of their arrival, referring to the deluge of shoppers that usually descend on the grocery store before a big winter storm.
Some people even started strategizing about ways to rebel against the anticipated interruption.
“Can we pull some cash to pay some folks to stand outside Market Basket wearing US Revolutionary War uniforms and looking angry?” one person asked.
“I have always disliked the royal family,” another person wrote on Twitter Wednesday, “but closing down street access to Market Basket MAKES THEIR REIGN INTOLERABLE!”
I have always disliked the royal family, but closing down street access to Market Basket MAKES THEIR REIGN INTOLERABLE! pic.twitter.com/jSYCMk7r3k— ComicSamanthas (@ComicSamanthas) November 30, 2022
I can’t even explain to you how incredibly on brand this reaction is for my neighborhood. It all comes back to market basket. pic.twitter.com/JbVpm7TlGV— Chris (@Crfxm) November 29, 2022
Others, meanwhile, imagined the royals strolling down the aisles of their local grocery store.
“I like to think that they’ve been patiently waiting to visit the Somerville Market Basket ever since they read BBC coverage of the Demoulas conflict back in 2014,” one person wrote.
According to an email to residents from city officials on Wednesday, a block of Somerville Avenue, from Dane Street to School Street, was closed “to accommodate security measures for the British Royal visit.”
The city said “both directions of travel, the sidewalks, and parking will be closed to the public during this time.” Detours were in place, and the MBTA’s route 87 bus was temporarily rerouted.
But a spokesperson for Market Basket said while there would be some road closures nearby, the store would remain open, with “access from the Union Square side.”
City Councilor Jefferson Thomas Scott, whose ward includes the area where Market Basket is located, said Wednesday that news of the visit — and the accompanying road closures — caught him off guard.
In a series of tweets, Scott recommended that residents avoid “the entire area” all morning, and apologized for what some people felt like was a last minute notice.
“Hey, did you know that the royal family is visiting Ward 2 tomorrow? Yeah, me neither until I read it in the press,” said Scott, who also emailed an alert to constituents who are subscribed to his newsletter.
Hey, did you know that the royal family is visiting Ward 2 tomorrow?— JT Scott (@JTforWard2) November 30, 2022
Yeah, me neither until I read it in the press.
I'm finally getting some details just now about the planned visit, and I'll be posting here (and sending an email blast) as soon as I can to get the info to you.
Scott tweeted that the city isn’t handling “the Prince and Princess of Wales’ itinerary, so the times of these transits and closures ending is unknown.”
Also unknown? The number of “lookie-loos” who might show up to see British royalty, he said.
“Please spread the word to your friends and neighbors who depend on the childcare businesses (and Market Basket) in the area so they can make alternate plans,” he said.
As for his role in whatever headaches the visit might produce, Scott said Wednesday that you couldn’t blame him for the clogged streets and tough-to-access deli counter.
“I’m real sorry for the inconvenience,” he wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t invite these people.”
Spencer Buell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerBuell.