William and Kate want charity donations, not gifts

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Prince William and Kate Middleton asked Wednesday for anyone intending to send them wedding gifts to instead give the money to charity, including to the New Zealand government's earthquake appeal.

Guests to the April 29 wedding and those who simply want to express their goodwill can pay into a charitable gift fund, which will support 26 charities helping everyone from children to veterans, the arts and conservation.

"Having been touched by the goodwill shown them since the announcement of their engagement, Prince William and Miss Middleton have asked that anyone who might wish to give them a wedding gift consider giving instead to a charitable fund," a spokesman for the palace said.

Although most of the charities in the fund are based in Britain, they include the appeal for aid following the 6.3-magnitude earthquake last month in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which killed more than 200 people.

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service are also on the list of charities.

William, the eldest son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, is due to visit New Zealand from Thursday and will attend a national memorial service for victims of the quake in Christchurch on Friday. He will also visit Australia.

The charities chosen reflect "the couple's close ties to and affection for" those countries, the spokesman said.

The royal couple personally chose the charities in the fund, many of which are not well known and none of which have royal patronage.

"The couple have chosen to take the chance to benefit some causes that have less exposure or which are undertaking valuable work in areas of the community which the couple feel would benefit from this support," the spokesman said.

Among the organisations are an anti-bullying group, a dance group, a charity for army widows and Earthwatch, a community of scientists and members of the public who undertake hands-on environmental research.

Donations via the website, www.royalweddingcharityfund.org, are possible in six currencies, but can also be made by telephone, by text message or by sending a cheque.

The money will be held and distributed by a charitable foundation set up by William and his brother, Prince Harry.

© 2011 AFP

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