Jimmy Carter, the often-criticized one-term president who many believe has become the best former president in U.S. history, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The American Friends Service Committee, an organization that puts into practice the beliefs of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), has announced it has nominated the Georgia Democrat. In an obvious slap at former presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, the AFSC noted that since leaving office, Carter has rejected opportunities for lucrative positions on corporate boards "and other kinds of self-serving experience, to devote himself to public service on a global scale."

In the nominating letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo, Asia Bennett, the AFSC executive secretary, said that though the Service Committee believed that Carter's presidency was "deeply flawed by his intensification of the arms race, and by other Cold War policies, there were indications of the concerns that would be the focus of his work as a private citizen later." Among Carter's post-presidential achievements, Bennett cited mediation efforts in Ethiopia, the Middle East, Sri Lanka and Somalia, plus work on the Nicaraguan, Haitian and Panamanian elections. Out and About The phenomenal advance ticket sales for Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" continue to break all Kennedy Center records. The show doesn't open its 14-week run until May 28 and advance sales stand at more than $8 million, about 80 percent of capacity. Until this week, tickets had been sold by mail. On Monday, the box office opened for the first time with all 13 windows working and 60 phone lines -- and even that many were unable to handle all the calls. The Kennedy Center set up food carts for patrons waiting in the long lines. As a result, $367,000 worth of tickets were sold that day for Lloyd Webber's smash techno-musical. That is more than twice the previous daily record, set for the opening of "Annie II" ...

Princess Hope Leezum Namgyal, the daughter of American debutante Hope Cooke and the last king of Sikkim -- whose 1963 "storybook" marriage was a major news event -- is herself planning to marry. She will wed Thomas Gwyn Reich Jr., a foreign service officer. Her father was Palden Thondup Namgyal, who died in 1982. Sikkim, a former Himalayan protectorate of India, has become an Indian state. The princess, 22, is a Georgetown University graduate, as is her fiance, 34, who until recently was the head officer for Burmese affairs at the State Department. The couple are to marry here July 13 and will live in Japan, where Reich is to be posted ...

It's like old times in Los Angeles, with former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher visiting with her friend and supporter Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy. Thatcher, who is spending the week on a private visit to the area, will be at Reagan's 80th-birthday party in Beverly Hills tonight. At her reunion with the former president and his wife at the Reagan Library, a bystander asked if Thatcher missed being prime minister. She replied, "Yes, after 10 1/2 or 11 years in office, who wouldn't?" ...

Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, in town to tape a television show, checked into the Embassy Suites Hotel in the Chevy Chase Pavillion at Friendship Heights yesterday. When he got to his room, there was a gift bottle of wine with the business card of Paul Leeper, the head of security at the hotel. Leeper was one of the officers who arrested Liddy in 1972 in connection with the Watergate break-in. The two men reportedly are now friends ...