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Kate Middleton, Prince William

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William & Kate's Royal Wedding

Is this beefed-up royal wedding security really necessary, or is it just to boost some already big princely egos?
—Debbie, London, via in the inbox

Apparently there really are some people who would rather blow up the royal wedding than wave their officially sanctioned tea towels in the streets. The cheek! So who are these would-be murderers? You may be surprised...

The first group that comes to mind, at least in the United States, would be Al Qaeda or some similarly militant Islamist group of the bat-guano insane variety. But in England, the bigger threat originates closer to home. The real reason why British security forces reportedly have reshuffled their resources in recent weeks: Irish terrorist splinter groups.

We're not talking about the traditional Irish Republican Army, which is generally believed to be "decommissioned" in terror expert parlance. No, the threat apparently comes from a group called The Real IRA—sort of like The Real L Word, but with bombs instead of lesbians. The Real IRA is one of an estimated 30 such Irish splinter groups thought to be in operation at the moment; it suffered a decline a decade ago, but has bounced back in the past two years, terror experts tell me.

In fact, the group reportedly tried to set off a bomb this past Monday night in Belfast. They failed—unlike two weeks ago, when a Real IRA car bomb went off, killing a police officer.

"In an ideal world, the Real IRA would love to make a big splash at the royal wedding," says Dr. Mary Mattox Daughtrey, executive director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

It's doubtful that the Real IRA has the resources to launch a major strike on the mainland, Daughtrey explains. However, she adds, "[British security forces] would would be remiss not to take them seriously. Every other TV in the world is going to be glued to this event, which means there are going to be a lot of people trying" to disrupt it.

There's another reason for beefed-up security ahead of April 29: The terrorists may not target the royals directly, but rather, the fans, START program manager Dr. John Sawyer points out. If citizens fear terrorist bombs, they will stay away from the local street parties that the palace is encouraging.

"You feel more comfortable knowing there is a policeman around every corner," Sawyer explains.

So feel free to wave those tea towels, wherever you are.