- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2005

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, made a brief but spirited dash for freedom yesterday afternoon at the National Building Museum, exiting the building after her husband, Prince Charles, gave a speech.

Instead of obediently getting into the waiting black limousine, where the couple have their own cushions, she skipped across the driveway to shake a few hands, to the dismay of her handlers, who have kept a tight leash on the royal couple since they arrived in the States on Tuesday.

“It was so exciting to shake her hand,” said Susan Ranta, 59-year-old fan of Camilla who works across the street at the Government Accountability Office.

Minutes later, a ruddy-cheeked Charles greeted the well-wishers — smiling, shaking hands and patting a 6-month-old baby.

Under brilliant sunshine, Camilla — wearing a conservative navy blue suit — seemed to enjoy the break from protocol, bypassing a blond woman in pink carrying a large, hand-lettered sign: “Diana Will Always Be The Queen of America’s Heart.”

“I booed her pretty good,” said Lisa Stewart, from Florida. “She kind of looked up and went over that way.”

“These two are on a PR campaign to get Camilla accepted. If we don’t say something, they win that little battle,” she said. Mrs. Stewart traveled from Florida to protest the royal visit, as a member of a small group of devotees of the late Princess Diana called Diana Circle.

Charles was received warmly by nearly 1,000 invited guests who waited patiently in a long line that snaked around the block.

“He’s really handsome and dignified,” said Hilda Cooper, who stood among a small throng of gawkers who witnessed the arrival.

“I think she’s what he needed,” D.C. resident Winnie Portney said of Camilla. “You know the country and the horses and the whole thing.”

Urban designer and landscape architect Cy Paumier said he was looking forward to hearing what the prince — who received the prestigious Vincent Scully Prize — had to say about traditional architecture and the environment.

“I lived in England for five years, which is when he was first beginning to take a major role in urban planning,” he said. “I saw him at conferences where he spoke. I think he did a great job of awakening England to the responsibilities of reinvesting in the center cities.”

After a tour of the museum and a few hors d’oeuvres, Charles took the podium and drew laughter when he told the crowd that upon arrival: “I saw all these empty chairs almost as if set up for an execution.”

He quoted Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, saying, “Architecture is frozen music.” He implored the group to “keep in rhythm with nature.” He also spoke about the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina.

Then Charles was off to meet representatives of Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups at Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The royal couple also visited the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, where Camilla gave a rare speech, to a group of osteoporosis researchers.

“I first became involved with osteoporosis after both my mother and my grandmother died as a result of this devastating disease,” said the duchess, who is patron of Britain’s National Osteoporosis Society.

Last night, Charles and Camilla were feted by Britain’s ambassador to the United States, David Manning, and his wife, Catherine, at a British Embassy reception attended by supporters of the prince’s charities.

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