World joins in royal wedding party

The fairytale wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton captured the imagination of the world Friday, with millions sharing in the celebration of the royal nuptials at parties across the globe.

An estimated two billion people watched on TV when William and Kate exchanged vows at Westminster Abbey, and even in the home to the Hollywood stars royal glamour shined strong.

"We have movie stars, but they're not as good," said Paula Haifley, 30, as she arrived at the Cat and Fiddle British pub on Sunset Boulevard.

Decked out with Union Jack flags and cut-out Kate and Wills models at the entrance, some 300 royal party-goers packed into the bar for the all-night bash to watch the wedding service that started at 3:00 am in LA.

"We came to celebrate. It gave us the opportunity to dress like girls, and celebrate the pomp and circumstance that we don't necessarily get over here," said Katie Christiansen, 24.

"It's a Cinderella story to make Hollywood drool," Andrew Rule from London commented in Sydney's Daily Telegraph tabloid.

"Today the world will see the wedding that proves that fairytales can, and do, happen," he wrote in the newspaper which reserved its first five pages for the wedding.

Hundreds of devoted monarchists gathered for celebratory lunches across the country, joining for a champagne toast, wedding cake and slideshows of the royal family and newlyweds.

And British troops took a rare break from frontline duties in one of Afghanistan's most hostile provinces to watch the pomp and ceremony from London on a big screen while toasting the marriage with alcohol-free beer and hunks of barbecued steak and chicken.

For some at Camp Tombstone in the southern province of Helmand it was a chance to honour the future king and their country, for others it was a great excuse to relax and have some fun.

"If you were going to say the politically correct thing, it would be it's a great thing but if you were to say (the) real thing, it's a cracking day off," said Able Seaman Kieran Glynn, a 22-year-old from Edinburgh, Scotland.

The British embassy in Brussels threw an austerity-based royal wedding reception with food and drink laid on by sponsors.

Ambassador Jonathan Brenton told some 400 guests the British tradition was to bring something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue to a marriage.

"Here we are in a time of austerity in the UK and we have had to borrow an enormous amount - so thanks to our sponsors," he said, listing backers that offered Freixenet cava sparkling wine from Catalonia, pork pies from an Irish butcher and "North Sea" cod and chips.

Meanwhile in Paris, some well wishers visited the statue by the Pont d'Alma that has become an unofficial memorial to William's mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

A solitary pink rose lies at the foot of the "Flame of Freedom", above the tunnel where Diana's car crashed in 1997. With it is a handwritten message: "Dear Diana, thinking of you on this special day."

Despite France's revolutionary past, the wedding was followed avidly there, where three channels screened it live. Champagne corks flew in southern France where many British expats have settled.

"It's history in the making. The prince is marrying a commoner," said Lise Moloney, who toasted the royal couple from the Cafe de Paris in Eymet, a medieval "bastide town" in the Dordogne region.

In former British colony Kenya, where William proposed to Kate last October, wedding gatherings were held in cafes and restaurants across the capital Nairobi.

Even in the Nairobi slum of Kibera, Africa's biggest, a small group of people gathered around a television set up by a stall owner.

"As he proposed to her in Kenya, I think it is good for Kenyans to watch it," said Zack Aseka, owner of a stall selling electrical equipment.

Across Asia tens of millions tuned in to the event as national channels interspersed wedding coverage with discussion, commentary, and off-beat tributes to British life.

Some British-curriculum schools like the Alice Smith School in Malaysia were festooned in British flags and colourful bunting, as students celebrated by making wedding cards and cupcakes.

"This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate the British character of the school as well as wish the happy couple the best of luck," Steve Caulfied, principal of the school's primary section, told AFP.

Even the Kremlin, which has had frosty relations recently with Britain, extended "heartfelt congratulations" to the newlyweds.

"This day is a great and outstanding event not only for you, but also all the people of the United Kingdom. Let your family always live in harmony, happiness and love," Medvedev wrote to Prince William, the Kremlin said.

But British republicans took the opportunity to throw an anti-monarchy party, venting their annoyance at an occasion they consider to be a waste of time and money.

"The whole country is not in rapture over the royal wedding," Graham Smith, campaign manager of anti-monarchy group Republic, told 200 people gathered in a picturesque London square at the 'Not the Royal Wedding' celebration.

burs-rl/boc

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