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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 03:35 GMT
A Royal triumph?
By Peter Hunt
BBC Royal correspondent

Prince Charles and Camilla
Camilla has admitted to being nervous on this tour
The smiles on the faces of the royal entourage as they headed home, said it all.

America, from the perspective of those who work for the prince and the duchess, has been conquered.

The truth, as ever, is more complex.

The nightmare scenario of sustained protests by Diana supporters never materialised.

One or two rather sad souls holding placards and pictures of the late princess outside the White House didn't provide evidence of a country unwilling to embrace a prince with a new, second wife.

The reception across this vast nation was polite; at times, enthusiastic.

The crowds were respectable in size, but never vast. In a land where celebrity is celebrated, a man who will one day be a king still has pulling power.

The Diana mania, which began in the 1980s, was never going to be reproduced for a couple in their fifties. The US and the prince have moved on.

This eight day tour provided the first sustained opportunity to observe Camilla in action as a royal. Her every public move here was filmed and photographed. It could have been very unforgiving exposure. She, though, emerged intact from the ordeal.

There have been no mistakes, no gaffes. She smiled regularly and often.

After decades in the prince's life, she knows what the royal photographers are after. She tucked in, with gusto, when food was on offer at a farmer's market. It might not have been regal. It was endearing.

Her choice of clothing was criticised in some quarters. Camilla, apparently, had been too busy to read the coverage.

Two speeches

Prince Charles, perhaps mindful of mistakes made first time around, was attentive to his wife. Her presence enhanced him. She was careful to complement what he did, not upstage him.

As a result, he appeared less lonely, more rounded - far removed from the caricature of a slightly cranky figure who was rumoured to talk to his plants.

With someone by his side - for the first time on a foreign trip for more than a decade - the prince has been able to indulge his passion for his pet projects. He delivered two speeches, both lasting more than thirty minutes, on the topics of architecture and the environment.

Charles and Camilla
Prince Charles appeared more relaxed with Camilla at his side

There was an "I told you so" mentality creeping in to the texts - an irritation that when Charles first warned about, say, the environment, he was dismissed. But now the passage of time, he believes, has proved he was right all along.

The tempo of the visit became more relaxed and the coverage more complimentary as the royal couple travelled from east coast to west coast.

In California, the prince was amongst like-minded, organic-eating souls. One newspaper wrote about how "Chuck and Milla" had charmed their way around California. According to the reporter this was because the senior British royals were just "plain folks".

One Californian resident suggested the prince could move in and become one of the guys, as she put it, if he started loosening up and wearing jeans.

The prince's life has changed a lot in recent months and years - but not that much.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the Royal couple chatting to homeless people



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Royals in California
06 Nov 05 |  In Pictures
The evolution of Camilla
04 Nov 05 |  UK


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