The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Washington.
By John Arundel
A stop watch might have been clocking Prince Charles’ visit to Washington this week, as gobsmacked Royals watchers watched with possible amazement as England’s future king and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, took on 22 events in less than 72 hours during their whirlwind visit.
In Prince Charles’ first visit to Washington with his wife since his marriage to Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005 – there appeared to be plenty of catching up to do – for both of them.
After landing at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday afternoon, the royal visit kicked off with a welcoming reception that evening with British Embassy staff, hosted by Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott and his wife, Lady Susie Westmacott.
“I am so pleased to welcome The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall back to the United States,” Westmacott said in a statement. “Since King George VI’s historic visit in 1939, there have been the closest possible links between Presidents of the United States and the British Royal Family.”
Wednesday was a jam-packed day with visits. The day started with a visit to the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, followed by a tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, a visit to the Carlos Rosario International Charter School, and was capped off with a visit to The White House with President Obama in the Oval Office.
“I think it’s fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family,” Obama told him, according to pool reports.
“That’s awfully nice to know,” the prince responded.
That evening, Duchess Camilla attended the Women of the World Reception at the National Museum for Women in the Arts, while Prince Charles was presented with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation’s Teddy Roosevelt Award at Andrew Mellon Auditorium. The prince gave a 10-minute speech, citing a study estimating that by 2025, there will be one ton of plastic in the oceans for every three tons of fish.
“Although the evidence surrounding the links between plastic waste and human health are not yet clear, I would tentatively suggest that they are unlikely to be beneficial,” he wryly noted, according to pool reports.
Afterwards, Barby Allbritton, who heads up the Prince’s royal charity in the U.S., hosted a super- exclusive reception at the home of her son Robert Allbritton – the owner of Politico – and his wife Elena.
On Thursday, the Royals visited the National Archives and the Lincoln Cottage in northwest Washington – where President Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation and the Prince tried his hand at bowling – and finished with a visit to the Armed Forces Retirement Home.
When we caught up with the Royal Couple, on a frigid and blustery morning on the first day of their American visit, they were touring the Mount Vernon Estate, a place perhaps known best as a symbol of colonial resistance to British occupation 232 years ago.
The Royals showed up at 11:43 am by motorcade. It was Charles’ first visit to Mount Vernon since 1970, when he toured Mount Vernon with his sister Princess Anne and the Nixon sisters.
Ever the stylish ones, His Royal Highness wore a double-breasted blue suit that an Embassy staffer told us was tailored by Anderson & Sheppard, while Duchess Camilla wore a taupe-colored coat and dress designed by a favorite designer, Bruce Oldfield, with silky circular insets. She also wore gold and diamond jewelry, including a very impressive looking brooch by Van Cleef and Arpels’ Kristina.
The Royals were greeted at the Estate by Mount Vernon’s President Kurt Viebranz, Mount Vernon Ladies Association Regent Barbara Lucas, Mount Vernon’s SVP of Historic Preservations & Collections Carol Cadou, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who accompanied them on a tour of the Mansion overlooking the Potomac River.
Ever the salesman, McAuliffe made a sales pitch to the future king on the virtues of Virginia wines, handing Prince Charles a bottle of Barboursville Wine and impressing upon him the importance of Britain doing more trade with its former colony.
The state already does about $100 million in agricultural trade with Britain, including shipping substantial quantities of wood pellets that Brits use as heating fuel. McAulliffe told reporters later that the prince was “very receptive” to the pitch and invited him to stop in for a visit next time he travels to England.
But it was Mount Vernon’s coterie of animals that stole the show.
During a tour of the grounds led by Director of Horticulture Dean Norton – who told us he also gave the 15-year-old Prince Charles a tour of Mount Vernon in 1970 – the Royals stopped to pet a regal British Airedale named Gunner, who was sporting a Union Jack scarf around his neck. After petting the patriotic dog, Charles and Camilla posed with Bubba, a four day-old lamb born on the grounds.
The couple laid a wreath at the Tomb of George and Martha Washington, then Director of Trades Steve Bashore led a tour of Mount Vernon’s 18th century Pioneer farm, where His Royal Highness engaged in lively conversations with historical reenactors in period garb, including oxen handler Stephen Kozak of Alexandria, standing with his oxen “Jed” and “Jake” in front of the 16-sided Treading Barn.
Asked if the sharp-horned oxen could be excited by the Royal visit, Kozak responded, “They don’t get excited by too many things…They just posed for 800 schoolchildren yesterday.”
Mount Vernon remained open to tourists during the day of the visit. One of those we found gobsmacked by the Royal visit was Kitty Morgan of London, who lives nearby with her children Sam, 11, and Jem, 7.
“We come to Mount Vernon a lot, so I decided my boys, being British, needed to see their future sovereign,” Morgan said.