We’ve learned that the duchess of Cornwall has a fabulous sense of humor and an unspoken fear of flying. She grabbed Prince Charles’ hand as they prepared for landing in the chartered Boeing on their first official trip to the U.S. this week. A witness described it as a very touching moment. Press kvetching
The four dozen members of the British press traveling with the royals paid 6,000 pounds – about $10,600 each – for Charles and Camilla’s eight-day image tour, but some are quite vocal about their inability to get enough photos and access to make that investment worthwhile.
Biz before royal lunch
First brother Neil Bush and his wife, Maria, declined to attend the “family” lunch at the White House Wednesday for the royal couple. A White House spokesperson said Neil had business out of town and would not arrive in D.C. until later in the afternoon. But we’ve learned that was not the case. He put his own business right here in Washington ahead of schmoozing with the prince and lunching with the Bush family. Neil was visiting schools to sell them on his “Ignite! Learning” middle school curriculum.
Our own regal Nancy
Former first lady Nancy Reagan, thrilled to be back in D.C. for the “social dinner” at the White House for Prince Charles and the duchess of Cornwall, stayed at the Hay-Adams Hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. When she went through the White House receiving line, Prince Charles turned to President Bush and said: “This lady is very special to me.” President Bush responded: “To us, too.”
Musing 20 years on
It was a poignant moment when Mrs. Reagan, frail and hard of hearing, but looking elegant in a vintage black velvet Galliano dress – “It has to be old if it’s Galliano,” she quipped – walked out of the Red Room and stopped under the portrait of her late husband. She just paused in front of it before going into the State Dining Room, where she was seated next to Prince Charles. It was a very nostalgic evening for her. She stopped to look at the gardens and greeted former President Bush 41 and Barbara Bush warmly.
Saving trees, recalling polo
The White House guest list included many who share common interests with Charles, though most had never met him. Chuck Leavell, the keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, who was seated with D.C. Mayor Tony Williams and Secretary of State Condi Rice, had flown in from the Stones’ tour for the evening. Leavell is also a trustee of the American Forest Foundation, and conservation is a cause dear to the prince. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Bill Farish played polo with the prince. “We saw a lot of them when we were in England,” Farish said.
Dancing, but so not the ’80s
Though many guests stopped to look at a classic photo of John Travolta dancing with Princess Diana at another dinner 20 years ago as they entered the White House, photographers had no chance of snapping the equivalent last night. Guests left at about 10:45 p.m. following the performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott. Merv Griffin, the former TV host who escorted Nancy Reagan, recalled dancing with Diana, and said as he arrived at the dinner that he’d be pleased to dance with the duchess “if she asks me.” Although some hoped the party would go on, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was quite pleased to go home. “The first time I danced with Joyce was at our wedding … and it was the last,” he said, adding in a rare concession: “I’m not very good at it.”
Old-school pols teach peace
Well-respected former GOP Senate leaders Howard Baker and Alan Simpson were in town yesterday to “educate” today’s legislative body on how both parties – as well as factions within one party – need to work together to avoid a U.S. Senate shutdown over potentially divisive issues such as the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor dining with her husband, John, on Halloween at Trattoria Liliana on Connecticut Avenue â€- Brian Stokes Mitchell lunching at Ben’s Chili Bowl before rehearsal on Tuesday at the Lincoln Theater … Mitchell sipping a pumpkin martini at Poste Moderne Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco to celebrate his opening-night standing ovation.
Former jailed journalist Judith Miller is expected to be back at her desk at The New York Times on Monday morning. Instead of negotiating a severance package, latest word is that she and the NYT are negotiating a non-antagonistic re-entry into the newsroom.