LONDON - In less than half a day, several members of the New England Patriots organization - including cheerleaders, Pat Patriot, and long-time former placekicker John Smith (a native of England) – were given the royal treatment during a tour of London.
While it may have been the first time in the historic city for most of the Patriots contingent, the group was widely recognized wherever it went. Fans and tourists from all over the world stopped and asked for photographs with the cheerleaders, the New England mascot, and Smith as they visited some of the most iconic landmarks of London in a whirlwind, five-hour excursion. For years following his playing career, Smith was a popular broadcaster in the U.K., helping introduce American football to a whole new audience in this part of the world.
]()The Patriots group kicked off their tour with a visit to the gates of Buckingham Palace (no sign of the Queen, however) before walking to nearby Clarence House, home of Prince Charles and his immediate family. From there, it was off to St. James Palace, the official seat of the court since Henry VIII made it so.
]()Piccadilly Circus was next on the list, followed by a brief stop at historic St. Paul's Cathedral, built by famed architect Christopher Wren in the 17th century. Then, it was off to the London Eye for spectacular view of the city from high above.And of course, no trip to London would be complete without spending some quality time in Trafalgar Square. There, the cheerleaders and Pat Patriot again posed for photos and also handed out Patriots souvenirs and merchandise to throngs of fans and curious on-lookers.
Many of those who came by to say hello to the New Englanders were football fans who'll be attending Sunday's Patriots-Buccaneers game at Wembley Stadium, the highlight of this overseas trip.
On Saturday, more fun and games are planned, including flag football contests and a huge pre-game bash for the UK Patriots Fan Club and their visiting guests of honor from the United States.