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British royal wedding a spectacle across pond

Viewing parties arranged around D.C.

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The marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday will be celebrated thousands of miles away in England with millions of people watching worldwide. But area residents, especially early risers, will have plenty of opportunity to take part in royal-esque events, from the self-indulgent to the charitable.

TV coverage of the wedding will start at 4 a.m. Eastern time, which will be 9 a.m. in London, where the ceremony will take place at the nearly 1,000-year-old Westminster Abbey.

In the District, more than 200 guests are expected to attend a 5 a.m. breakfast hosted by the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown.

Amal Zaari, the luxury hotel's director of social catering, said the breakfast - traditional British fare that includes warm scones, black pudding and authentic English tea - began as an intimate affair but quickly outgrew that plan.

"We are seeing this unique experience of having a royal wedding that is a fairy tale because Kate Middleton doesn't come from a royal family," Ms. Zaari said. "There's a lot of different dynamics happening where people are just wanting to share in this monumental event."

Ms. Zaari said that many of the breakfast attendants are women from their mid-30s to their 60s, though "quite a few men have made reservations as well."

A spokeswoman for the D.C. Superior Court said roughly a dozen couples registered for April 29 civil marriage ceremonies at the downtown courthouse, but it couldn't be determined whether the nuptials were inspired by the royal wedding.

Matt Snee, regional manager for Union Jack's British Pub in Bethesda, said Americans are fascinated by the wedding because the United States has no royal family and many Americans have bloodlines to England, Ireland and other Angloancestry.

"People identify with it," Mr. Snee said. "I'm old enough to remember Di's wedding. That was a huge, huge thing."

On July 21, 1981, an estimated 1 billion people watched in person and on television the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. Their marriage dissolved 13 years later.

While wedding mania will likely subside by the weekend, the royal couple's charitable fund will continue, providing assistance to at least 26 programs worldwide, including D.C.-born PeacePlayers International.

The program uses basketball to bring together children in hostile communities. Started in 2001 by D.C. natives Sean and Brendan Tuohey, the program is now in Belfast, Northern Ireland; Durban, South Africa; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Nicosia, Cyprus.

"It's very exciting of course, and totally unexpected," said Amy Selco, the group's director of development. "There's quite a considerable buzz, especially in D.C. People know who we are, but now we have that extra stamp of international recognition."

Still, program officials are uncertain about how much money they will receive.

The British Embassy in Washington will play host to the public May 7 as part of the European Union's Open House Day. The "Best of Britain" event will take place as Prince Charles, Prince William's father and next in line for the throne after his mother Queen Elizabeth II, visits the United States and is scheduled to stop in Washington to talk with President Obama.

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