Royal Reception -- But the Glitz Has Faded

Jan. 28, 2007 — -- Americans have long rolled out the red carpet for the British royals. This weekend they are doing so again -- but some wonder if it measures up to another royal visit decades ago.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles began their current U.S. trip in Philadelphia at Independence Hall -- ironically, the very place where Americans declared their independence from the British.

But any hard feelings have since been replaced with adoring faces and flowers -- and a royal couple ready to receive them. Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, thanked two little girls who brought bouquets for the prince's wife.

"This is the most important relationship," said Paddy Harverson who is Prince Charles' private secretary. "It's one of the most important relationships our country has."

At Philadelphia's Academy of Music, Charles and Camilla sat in the very box where Charles' great great grandfather, Edward VII, sat when he visited Philadelphia in 1860.

Camilla dazzled the crowd with her rubies and diamonds. Rod Stewart sang "The Way You Look Tonight."

But even the most devoted royal fans recognize that look has changed through the years. The glamour and glitz have faded.

Who could forget Charles and Diana's first trip? Diana's dance with actor John Travolta swept America off it's feet.

"It was a magnificent reception they received while they were in America," said Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty magazine. "She was like a Hollywood movie star."

More than 20 years later, actress Meryl Streep and former Vice President Al Gore were expected to gather at the Harvard Club in New York City Sunday night to honor Prince Charles, who was to receive an environmental award.

"You're looking at two middle-aged people who have a lot of worthy causes," Seward said. "But it's not as glamorous nor exciting, and it never can be."

Perhaps not. But the British are now pinning their hopes on the next prince and the girlfriend who could become his wife.

"I think that will bring back a lot of glamour," said Tom Leonard of the London Daily Telegraph. "And I think that is what the royal family and their supporters hope will happen, too."

Until then, there will still be the long lines and the lenses clamoring for a glimpse. After all, he's still the prince.