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HOUSTON -- A new royal is turning into a new sales trend -- Kate Middleton loves hats and royal watchers in Houston are following her lead.

Hat lover Leigh Ann Ranslem was busy trying on hats Tuesday at Neiman Marcus in the Galleria. She said she is a hat girl and her friends know it.

I've had several friends say Can I come shop in your hat closet? They're going to tea parties and what not in honor of the royal wedding, Ranslem said.

On Tuesday Ranslem was on patrol for a Kentucky Derby hat. That American tradition, along with Easter, the royal wedding and a new royal has put a run on headwear at Neiman Marcus.

We get new ones in, they are gone within a day, said sales clerk Barbara Macklin.

Neiman s declined to share any specific sales numbers, but other businesses are reporting hat sales 20 percent above expectations.

[The clothing world is] hoping the new royal princess will bring a surge back into hat wearing over here for the ladies, Macklin said.

Philip Treacy is the hat maker to the royal family. For the moment there s only one Philip Treacy left now on the sale rack -- it s a modest $1,100.

Many Houstonians will attend royal viewing parties, including one at Your Cup of Tea on Westheimer and Fondren.

We are there in spirit! Owner Mary Schnurr quips about the wedding.

British ex-pats will be gathering for the Wednesday evening event.

There will be a hat contest: One for the ladies and one for the gentlemen.

Schnurr had the latest on William and Kate, who are striving for the common touch.

She's going to do the laundry. She's going to do the dishes, she said.

Brits are famous for good form. For example, Schnurr teaches tea etiquette.

You can't drink tea out of a coffee mug, she said.

But like their new princess, Brits may be relaxing their style.

Mary raises a delicate tea cup and says cheers. Is toasting at tea time really an English tradition?

No, but we will today, she said with a smile.

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