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For royal couple, a quiet dinner at White House

Associated Press
Published November 3, 2005


WASHINGTON - Prince Charles dryly pronounced himself "still here" and "alive" Wednesday on his arrival at the White House for a visit showing off his new bride, Camilla. The Duchess of Cornwall, hoping to impress American Diana-philes on her first overseas trip as a British royal, was decidedly more enthusiastic.

Greeted by President Bush and his wife, Laura, with a no-pomp welcome, the all-smiles Camilla could be heard declaring something Mrs. Bush said was "fabulous."

As the foursome headed inside for an intimate lunch, Camilla briefly lagged behind, straying off the red carpet and showing the jostling media horde a shy grin and a little wave.

There was no shortage of pageantry for the royal couple in the evening. A rare White House black-tie evening featured buffalo for dinner, music by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and dancing with several dozen luminaries from the worlds of politics, history, writing, diplomacy and sports.

Bush toasted the royal couple before dinner, saying their visit was a "reminder of the unique and enduring bond between the United Kingdom and the United States."

"The people of the United States draw a lot of strength from having the United Kingdom as an ally," Bush said.

With an American tour that began Tuesday in New York, Charles and Camilla were looking to stoke trans-Atlantic enthusiasm for their new marriage.

Camilla was long reviled in the British press as the woman who broke up Princess Diana's marriage to Charles, but has been gaining acceptance with increasingly high-profile appearances since the longtime loves wed in April.

For the president, spending a sunny fall day feting royalty provided a welcome change from the recent indictment of a top-level aide and questions about the Iraq war.

The visit invited comparisons to the Charles' 1985 U.S. trip with Diana. Then, the young princess wowed America with her demure smiles, fashion sense and well-remembered turn around the White House dance floor with actor John Travolta.

On Wednesday, no military bands or ceremony heralded the royals' arrival - only the president and first lady waiting in the White House driveway.

No one traded kisses, or anything more exuberant than handshakes and smiles.

"I'm still here. I'm alive," Charles replied drolly when a British reporter asked how the trip was going so far.

The Bushes presented the royal couple with custom-made his-and-hers leather saddles, each engraved with the crests of Charles' and Camilla's titles. The royal couple brought Winston Churchill essays, a sterling-silver-and-turquoise pill box and a cachepot of English bone china.

AND FOR DINNER ...

The menu for President Bush's dinner Wednesday for Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, as released by the office of the first lady:

Celery broth with crispy rock shrimp

Newton chardonnay "unfiltered" 2002

Medallions of buffalo tenderloin

Roasted corn

Wild rice pancakes

Glazed parsnips and young carrots

Peter Michael pinot noir "Le Moulin Rouge" 2002

Mint romaine lettuce with blood orange vinaigrette

Vermont camembert cheese and spiced walnuts

Petits fours cake

Chartreuse ice cream, red and green grape sauce

Iron Horse "Wedding CuvDee" 2002

TABLE SETTING

Clinton China

Vermeil flatware

Gold pintuck silk tablecloths

Sprays of white phaeleanopsis orchids with camelia foliage in the historic White House vermeil candelabras