- Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2011

LONDON (AP) - From tiny villages to big cities, hundreds of thousands of Britons celebrated the royal wedding Friday with brass bands, baked goods and red, white and blue bunting at traditional neighborhood street parties.

There were 5,500 applications for street closures across the country, officials said, with residents taking over usually traffic-filled roads with long tables, picnic meals and festive banners.

Many towns and cities erected outdoor screens so people could watch the wedding ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey _ and their kiss from a Buckingham Palace balcony a little later.

With rain holding off and sun breaking through the cloud in London, residents in several neighborhoods came out to mingle over cold drinks and home-baked treats.

Street parties on big royal occasions have been a British tradition for decades, from Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 to Queen Elizabeth II’s golden jubilee in 2002.

“It’s very much a London thing,” said actress Barbara Windsor, star of the quintessentially English “Carry On” comedy films and the “EastEnders” soap opera. “When the war was over we used to have street parties all the time for no reason.”

Windsor was among more than 200 people attending a north London party where residents ate pizza and Indian food from long tables before listening to an Irish band and a string quartet.

Across town, about 100 charity workers and local children were invited to a party in Downing Street, home to Prime Minister David Cameron and his family. They were served egg sandwiches and red Jell-O from paper plates, soda in paper cups and tea poured from stainless steel teapots into white china cups.

A trio of singers performed an eclectic assortment of songs _ including “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and the Papas and Radiohead’s “Creep” _ and the policeman on duty outside 10 Downing St. loaned children his bobby helmet while they posed for photos.

The prime minister, still dressed in the formal tailcoat he had worn to the wedding, dropped by to share details of ceremony,

“It was beautiful to see two people who really love each other and who are incredibly happy at an amazing ceremony,” Cameron said.

And, he added, “the cupcakes were very good.”

In London’s Hyde Park, tens of thousands of people watched the ceremony on giant screens, many adorned with union jacks. Wills and Kate T-shirts or even more festive regalia.

“It’s a huge community event and I just came out to have a great time,” said Andy Tobias, a 25-year-old consultant who was among a group of men wearing a white wedding gown and sunglasses. “I’m just trying to look as beautiful as Kate and we might come pretty close, but I think she’ll probably pip us to the post.”

There were parties in city centers and rural villages, including the mountain hamlet of Rookhope in northern England, where 100 villagers enjoyed cakes, scones and tea in the local working men’s club.

“It was a better service than Charles and Diana’s because they have waited and they seem to really know and love each other,” said retiree Betty Bowman, who clutched a Union Jack as she watched the service on TV. “I wish them all the best.”

If William’s brother had been the groom, things might have been less restrained.

“It’s just as well it wasn’t Prince Harry, mind _ he’d have probably bent her over backwards and given her a right smacker,” she said.

Not everyone was cheering Friday’s wedding. Anti-monarchist group Republic held a “not the royal wedding” party in a London square.

Several hundred people _ some wearing “Citizen not Subject” T-shirts _ enjoyed food, drink and music and games including a stall allowing visitors to buy a mock title such as knight or dame.

John Deery, 45, of London, said he had nothing against the royals personally.

“Will is probably a nice guy,” he said.

“I’m not an anarchist but I want a fair society, a fair democracy and I don’t think we have one.”

In Glasgow, officials warned people not to go to an unofficial party in Kelvingrove Park after more than 14,000 indicated on Facebook that they planned to attend. Officials said the party did not have permission and feared it would overwhelm the park.


Caroline Morrow and Aaron Edwards contributed to this report.

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