Britons take to the street with wedding fever

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Miles of bunting were draped over Britain Friday as the country marked the royal wedding with thousands of street parties, taking advantage of a public holiday to let down their hair.

About 5,500 groups of residents asked permission to hold street parties on the day, including one in Downing Street hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, whose wife Samantha provided homemade cakes.

In the south London district of Battersea, souvenir stands and cocktails bars did a roaring business to the tunes of a Jamaican orchestra, as local residents threw open their doors for one of the biggest parties in the capital.

"I like the atmosphere and the fact that Britain, for once, is focused on a good and positive event for a whole day," said Nick Hoenig, a retailer from London in his mid-20s who was sharing a few beers with his friends.

Tom Wrang, a 28-year-old doctor decked out in the colours of the Union Jack flag, agreed: "We don't have any national holiday here, like Bastille day, and it's a great way for the nation to celebrate together."

Crowds gathered around a giant screen to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey, with many exclaiming in delight when the bride emerged, radiant in an ivory satin and lace dress.

"She is so beautiful," sighed one French tourist. "William, say yes!" cried another voice from the crowd as the couple stood up to say their vows.

Infused with the carnival spirit, onlookers clutching beers, glasses of champagne and royal flags enthusiastically sang along with the marriage ceremony hymns, such as "Jerusalem", and of course the national anthem.

In quieter moments, the older generation regaled youngsters with memories of previous royal weddings.

Georgina Cole, a 48-year-old pediatric nurse dressed in red, white and blue and wearing a Union Jack flag on her shoulders, recalled a similar party in 1981 for the marriage of William's parents Prince Charles and Diana.

"I was 18 at the time," she recalled, watching her young daughter get facepainted. "It's exciting to be here again. We wanted to celebrate the royal wedding, watch it on the big screen and spot some celebrity guests."

Her friend, Blanka Pilinger De Jesus, added: "It will definitely be a day that I will remember until my last day, it's so romantic."

Nearby, pensioner Pauline Davidson sold a wide range of royal knick-knacks adorned with the pictures of William and Kate, Charles and Diana and even Prince Andrew and Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson.

The 77-year-old was having a great day, saying: "I enjoy all the glamour, and the pomp and ceremony, the soldiers and the carriages."

© 2011 AFP

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