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Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell: "It was a build-up which lasted hours for an event which was over in seconds"
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The BBC's Jennie Bond: "The picture the world's media had been waiting for"
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BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond: "Their appearance together prompted further debate about a royal wedding"
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Court Correspondent Jennie Bond: "This is a moment that won't be forgotten"
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Watch Prince Charles and Mrs Parker Bowles leaving the Ritz hotel together
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Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond: "The timing is now right"
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The Sun's Arthur Edwards: "He's got to get on with his life"
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The BBC's Caroline Marston: "Tonight could be the night"
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Jennie Bond: "We should not think of this as a step down the aisle"
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BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond: "This was the moment the public had been waiting for"
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Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond: "Being seen together is significant"
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Friday, 29 January, 1999, 22:07 GMT
Charles and Camilla go public

Putting on the Ritz: Charles and Camilla leave the London hotel
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles have made their first public appearance together in the glare of photographers' flashbulbs.

The occasion, a 50th birthday party at the Ritz Hotel in central London for Camilla's sister Annabel Elliott, signals that their long-running love affair is now "official".

Charles emerged from the hotel followed closely by Camilla. Not since the days of Charles's late wife Diana had so many photographers, TV crews and reporters gathered to record a Royal event.

Up to 200 photographers and journalists were there to witness the occasion, having set up 60 ladders lined three-deep in anticipation outside the hotel.

Television satellite vans were parked in side streets alongside the London hotel, and bright TV lights illuminated the scene. Alongside the media throng was a crowd of members of the public several hundred strong.

Some had been waiting for many hours to catch a glimpse of the couple. Many were tourists, and others had merely stopped to see what was going on as they made their way home from pubs and restaurants.

Such was the ferocity of the flashguns, the British Epilepsy Association urged broadcasters not to transmit more than five seconds of the strobe-like effects, fearing that it would spark photosensitive seizures in some sufferers.

There were screams and whoops as Charles and Camilla walked down the steps of the Ritz towards their waiting car. One woman clapped and shouted "good on you Charlie".



The couple have been reluctant to go public with their relationship since Diana's death
With his right hand in his pocket, the prince appeared slightly cautious - if not nervous - and gestured Camilla towards the waiting chauffeur-driven royal car.

Camilla, dressed in black, smiled radiantly as she took centre stage before the world's media.

The shot has been dubbed the world's most elusive as the pair worked to conceal their relationship from the public gaze.

Camilla arrived at 8.45pm with her 23-year-old son Tom and 20-year-old daughter Laura. They were driven the short distance from St James's Palace in a Ford Mondeo.



Camilla walks up the steps of the Ritz
She smiled as photographers called out for her to pose for pictures. She was greeted on the steps of the Ritz by the hotel's manager and made her way to the Marie Antoinette Room where the birthday party for her sister Annabel was being held.

Prince Charles had arrived two hours and 10 minutes after Camilla, at 10.55pm, having hosted a charity dinner at nearby St James's Palace. He chose to walk to the hotel through Green Park.

Accompanied by police bodyguards, the prince, wearing a navy blue overcoat and carrying a birthday gift, strode up the steps of the world-famous hotel.

But before disappearing through the hotel doors, he paused, turned and waved to onlookers and photographers.

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