Tuesday, June 28, 2011

North America eagerly awaits William and Kate

By Maria Puente, USA TODAY

USATODAY.com feature

The royal tour

Here's a brief summary of what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will do during their 11-day tour of Canada and the USA:

Source: Research by Maria Puente, USA TODAY

By Frank Pompa, USA TODAY

Where is Paul Revere when we need him? The British royals ? Will & Kate ? are coming!

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who caught some of Monday's tennis action at Wimbledon, will be making their first official overseas trip.

    By Clive Mason, Getty Images

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who caught some of Monday's tennis action at Wimbledon, will be making their first official overseas trip.

By Clive Mason, Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who caught some of Monday's tennis action at Wimbledon, will be making their first official overseas trip.

This time they're not trying to take our guns, but they will almost certainly grab our attention.

Prince William of Wales and his bride, Catherine, the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrive in North America on Thursday, headed first to Canada and then to Southern California on an 11-day tour, their first overseas assignment since their glittering nuptials April 29.

It will be William's third visit to Canada and his first official visit to the USA; Catherine hasn't been to either country and is "beyond excited" about the trip, says her biographer, British journalist Katie Nicholl, writing in Vanity Fair.

But it's fair to say Canada and California are beyond excited, too, not to mention the news media.

"They are the celebrities of the royal world," says Melanie Bromley, West Coast bureau chief of Us Weekly, which is revving up for non-stop coverage of the visit.

"Before, royals were seen as archaic and stuffy and old, and (readers) were not really interested," she says. "Now we've got two royals who even look like celebrities. I've been bureau chief for four years, and this is the first time we're covering a royal couple with so much interest" from the public.

Few are more excited than the celebrity media, now vastly larger and more pervasive than even during the Princess Diana days. Is Kate the answer to their hopes for a new Diana-like sure-thing cover girl?

"It's such a completely different era," says Simon Perry, chief foreign correspondent heading the team of royals reporters who will cover the tour for People. "Diana was a big hit in America, and Kate and Will are showing they can be a hit, too. She is a lovely, fresh face but probably not a 'replacement' for Diana."

Canada, Britain watching

The Canadians anticipate unprecedented coverage of the couple's tour of six cities there. As of this week, according to Canadian Heritage, the department organizing the tour, more than 1,300 media personnel had signed up for credentials ? 1,122 from Canada alone.

"When (Queen Elizabeth II) visited Canada last summer, there were 18 international journalists on the trip," Canadian Heritage minister James Moore told the CBC. "On this trip, 274 international journalists are coming. It is by far the largest and most covered royal visit Canada has ever seen."

There's also widespread excitement in the U.K., says Caroline Millington, showbiz editor for the British magazine Women's Own. "They've already done a great job of boosting the profile of the monarchy in the British Isles, and the hope is that their magic is an exportable commodity," she says.

Americans and Canadians will be watching them to see what they do and say. (William is expected to make short speeches at multiple stops; Kate is not expected to say much publicly.) Most of all, they want to see what she's wearing. (She's expected to bring dozens of outfits for the trip.) The British at home will be watching to see how the couple perform as representatives of the kingdom and as a future king and queen.

"We'll be looking for good humor, accessibility, openness, transparency, glamour, romance, balanced with professionalism, regality, and a little bit of pomp," Millington says.

Doing their royal duties

The duke and duchess are arriving on a Canadian Air Force jet, and they will return home from Los Angeles on a scheduled British Air flight, not on a private or royal plane, thus saving hundreds of thousands of pounds. They are expected to stay in the British consul general's residence while in L.A.

The schedule during the three days they will be in California ? July 8-10 ? will conform to the usual mission of royal visits: flying the flag and promoting philanthropy. They will focus on talking up U.K. commerce and culture, highlighting USA-U.K. ties and raising money for royal causes.

William will play in a polo match in Santa Barbara (tickets are going for $4,000 each) to raise money for his charitable foundation; the duchess will present the trophy to the winner. The kleig-light event of the visit will be a sit-down dinner for the British Academy for Film and Television Arts (William is president), aimed at introducing young British talent to Hollywood executives and studio bosses.

And don't rule out the possibility of an unscheduled appearance. "They're quite good at surprising us," Bromley says. "The schedule looks completely jam-packed, but I do wonder if there's going to be some sort of A-list encounter or photo op we're not expecting."

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