- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2005

A dizzying day for Britain’s visiting royals began with a private family luncheon with President Bush at the White House and ended with champagne toasts at a soigne black-tie dinner in the State Dining Room.

Mr. Bush toasted Prince Charles in brief remarks highlighting the “unique and enduring bond between America and the United Kingdom,” adding that America has “no greater friend” than Britain.

Charles responded in his toast by recalling his first visit to the White House in the 1970s, accompanied by his sister Princess Anne. The current eight-day tour of the United States is Charles’ first official trip abroad in the company of his bride, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

“The media was busy marrying me off to Trisha Nixon [the daughter of President Nixon],” Charles said to laughter from the 130 invited guests. Now “the same thing is happening to my son” William.

The prince cited the two countries’ “friendship and loyalty” and ended his toast by telling Mr. Bush that “the burdens of the world rest on your shoulders.”

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed in the East Room after the dinner, which included celery soup with shrimp, medallions of buffalo tenderloin, mint romaine lettuce, cheese, petit fours and Chartreuse ice cream with red and green grape sauce.

Tables were adorned with gold silk tablecloths, and the floral arrangements were sprays of white orchids with camellia foliage.

Camilla wore a black cashmere jacket with beaded jet-black embroidery over a midnight silk taffeta skirt by British design house Robinson Valentine, which also designed her wedding gown. Around her neck was a diamond serpent necklace that was described as “a family heirloom.”

First lady Laura Bush wore an off-shoulder gown by Oscar de la Renta in amber silk with taffeta leaves and flowers embroidered with beads.

William Farish, former U.S. ambassador to Britain, said before the dinner that Charles and Camilla make “a wonderful couple. We saw them a lot when we were in England.”

Washington’s A-list celebrities turned out for the rare evening dinner. Former NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw said: “We don’t have a lot of princes in South Dakota,” his home state.

“Cheers” and “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer said he was on the guest list because he was a supporter of Mr. Bush. “Maybe the only one in L.A.,” he added dryly.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in a red strapless dress by Mr. de la Renta, who was seated beside her at the dinner.

Earlier in the day, Charles and Camilla rode in a motorcade to the SEED School in Southeast, the only urban public boarding school in the nation.

Accompanied by Mrs. Bush and David Manning, the British ambassador to the U.S., the royal couple toured the school, met with students and were serenaded by the school choir.

After a few remarks by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall greeted the students, shaking hands and working the crowd, studiously avoiding the journalists. Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry wore a Stetson, while the duchess went hatless.

“Do you get to go home on weekends?” Charles asked one boy. A graduate himself of several upper-crust English boarding schools, he noted that perhaps it wasn’t all that bad. “And the food’s good, right?” That got a round of laughter.

Asked by The Washington Times what was the most interesting thing he had learned from the visit, he looked nervously to his wife then answered: “I learned a lot today. [The school] changes the whole person.”

One student stood shyly, looking at the prince. He confessed he didn’t know all that much about the British royalty. “I know he’s the prince of England’s son,” he said, adding that he will become king “when the queen dies.”

Charles and Camilla also had an intimate lunch at the White House with the president and first lady, dining on lemon sole, watercress soup, and salad with a champagne dressing.



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