Match-making university takes pride in royal marriage

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If it wasn't for St Andrews, William and Kate would never have met. So residents of this Scottish university town had more reason than most to celebrate their wedding Friday.

In the venerable surroundings of St Salvator Quadrangle, one of the 600-year-old university's oldest squares, more than 1,000 people gathered at a "royal breakfast" before watching the wedding on a big screen.

Many of the well-wishers were students, some of them in the red academic gowns worn by undergraduates here at formal occasions, others wearing kilts and dozens sporting brightly coloured top hats and royal-related headgear.

"I'm American, so for me it's an historic experience. The royal family represents centuries of history, and they're still going on -- that's impressive," said 20-year-old Sabrina, wearing a lilac, wide-brimmed hat.

"And it's so lovely here, it's a real community experience."

Fellow student David, 21, was less fulsome in his praise for the royal couple, but appreciated it as a national event. "I really enjoy the atmosphere today and I like the royals, but I see it as a British thing," he said.

On the sundrenched lawns of the university, the celebrating crowds ate from picnic hampers, drinking tea in porcelain cups in honour of the special day.

Local and student choirs provided entertainment, and dancers performed some traditional Scottish moves to the sounds of a violin and bagpipes.

Silence fell however when Kate arrived at Westminster Abbey -- at least until she and William said their vows, at which point the crowd erupted into joyful applause and vigorous flag-waving.

"It's a community event: the (city) council, university, local organisations, everybody was a part of it. The food was given by bakeries and local shops," said Marysia Denyer, a member of the community council.

Sporting a hat adorned with little pictures of the newlyweds and ribbons in the red, white and blue of the Union Jack flag, she said 6,000 people had applied to attend the event, but only one third of them could be allowed in.

The interest in the marriage of Kate and William, who met when they enrolled on the history of art course in September 2001, was in evidence across this chic port city.

"This was where William met Kate," proclaimed a sign in one cafe in North Street.

"St Andrews, the community and the university are both very proud that Prince William and Kate Middleton came here to study," said Menzies Campbell, chancellor of the university and a British lawmaker from the Liberal Democrat party.

"It seems that they have a great deal of affection for the university, that they visited again a few weeks ago. They are a charming couple."

© 2011 AFP

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