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Along with three or four thousand residents of Richmond, North Yorkshire, I am standing in the town square awaiting the arrival of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who are spending one of their typical working days helping the town celebrate the 850th anniversary of its first market charter.
For the next hour, I follow the Duchess as she slowly makes her way around the market, displaying her familiarity with country life and putting in a good word for her husband as she goes. Did you know the Prince of Wales is patron of the organic Soil Association?In Camilla’s case, how well she does on the trail will ultimately affect whether she becomes Queen, and since their marriage Charles’s future is irrevocably bound up in hers.The new Duchess’s old friends are certain that she is up to the task.“There was a real sense of triumph at Saint George’s Chapel when they came in, these two people who had gone through so much to get there,” says the Prince’s goddaughter, Santa Sebag Montefiore, of the wedding.“Everybody was so pleased for them—filled with this feeling that they’re together at last, and without any doubt about Camilla’s position, ” The decorator Jane Churchill, whose family and Camilla’s have always been close, adds, “I really do think that Charles has ended up with his soul mate.She and Charles are re-united at the soup stand (all of our soups are gluten-free, says the sign) and, at the last stand in the market, finally get to taste the “Hog Roast” sandwich I told her about.
After taking a few bites, the Prince calls out to the photographers, “You’ve all got to get one of these when we’re gone.”As the royal couple heads toward the town hall to unveil a plaque commemorating their visit, the Beefeaters click their heels, raise their rifles, and stand at attention; a military band strikes up a patriotic anthem; schoolboys wave Union Jacks; and little girls line up to hand the Duchess roses and carnations.
A half-dozen pho-tographers from the Royal Rota (or press rotation) greeted them as their train pulled in this morning, as did Lord Crathorne, the lord-lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Her Majesty’s representative for the county, erect and spiffy in his full-dress black uniform, complete with epaulets, medals, and sword. He wore one of his customary double-breasted bespoke suits with a light-blue shirt, a navy-blue-and-yellow rep tie, and brown leather shoes so old but well maintained that they gleamed like agate.
The Duchess, too, has adopted a kind of public uniform since acquiring her title.
The couple paused a moment for the cameras, then were whisked off by a quartet of officers from Royalty Protection, the British equivalent of the Secret Service. As instructed, I stand waiting in her path, and when she sees me, she greets me like an old acquaintance, even though we have been briefly introduced only the day before, at a St.
Their first stop in Richmond was the Georgian Theatre Royal, where they watched a short play on the history of the town put on by the local youth theater. Women far outnumber men in the well-behaved crowd, which is polite and curious but not adulatory. James’s Palace reception for recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross, honors given for war heroism.“Oh,” she says, “here you are again.” I’ve heard that she has a deep voice, but I’m surprised at just how husky it really is, apparently from decades of chain-smoking.“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” I reply, trying not to trip over the honorific.“Are you enjoying yourself?
Trash bins have been sealed in heavy-duty plastic, and the local police are out in force, as well as Beefeaters armed with automatic rifles.