An Uneventful Royal Visit

Linda Wertheimer talks with Alan Hamilton, reporter for The Times of London, about this week's relatively uneventful U.S. visit by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are wrapping up their first official tour of the United States this weekend. Their American visit has been uneventful. A headline in USA Today predicted that the trip would be a royal bore. Alan Hamilton follows the royal family for The Times of London. He joins us on the telephone to talk about the royal week. He is en route.

Alan, thank you for being with us.

Mr. ALAN HAMILTON (The Times of London): My pleasure.

WERTHEIMER: First of all, the Bushes had a fancy dinner at the White House for Prince Charles and his duchess, and as I'm sure you know, that's something that our first family almost never does. But overall, it seems to me this has been a fairly quiet visit. Is that your impression?

Mr. HAMILTON: It's been a quiet visit, and everybody thinks it's a quiet visit because they tend to compare it with the visit 20 years ago of Diana, which was a much more glitzy and glamorous affair. You will remember that the Reagans invited all Diana's favorite Hollywood stars, and she got to dance with John Travolta. But you know, we have a much older couple here now--we have a middle-aged couple. You're not going to get that glitz and glamour.

WERTHEIMER: So what's your sense of how they're doing? Do you think that the family had any particular expectations for this trip? Prince Charles hasn't been here in a very long time.

Mr. HAMILTON: No, he hasn't. The trip is planned around his interests--his architecture and environment and that sort of thing. And it's all rather dull and serious. But you have to remember why he's here. Royal trips like this are basically diplomatic missions; they're not show business.

WERTHEIMER: It seems to me also that one of the most interesting things about seeing them together--the prince and Camilla--is that they do seem to like each other rather more than Prince Charles and Diana did.

Mr. HAMILTON: Yes, I think you can tell by the body language that they are very much at ease with each other. I have seen comments during the last few days as to if they're so much in love and husband and wife, why don't they touch each other in public? I think that's a misunderstanding. When they're in public, they're working. They're meeting and greeting, and of course, they are British so they're a bit reserved, so their intimacies they will reserve for a time they are in private and not in public view.

WERTHEIMER: I wonder if you find in covering the family that Diana's son, Prince William, generates the kind of rock star excitement that we've seen in the past. I mean, if we had a visit from William, would that be a different sort of thing?

Mr. HAMILTON: Oh, a totally different story. I predict there would be huge crowds in the streets, and most of the crowds would be under 25 years old.

WERTHEIMER: And female. Alan Hamilton is a reporter for The Times of London. He's covering this week's royal visit by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. Thanks very much for talking with us.

Mr. HAMILTON: My pleasure.

WERTHEIMER: It's 22 minutes before the hour.

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