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Prince Charles, Camilla take in wacky musical in San Francisco

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SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 7 (AFP) - Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, attended a farcical musical romp during a night on the town in San Francisco on Sunday.

The royal couple arrived by limousine in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach, home of the long-running, wacky show Beach Blanket Bablyon.

Waiting to greet them were Mayor Gavin Newsom and his ex-wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle, along with former US Secretary of State George Shultz and his wife, Charlotte Milliard Shultz.

Charles, dressed in a black evening suit, white shirt and dark print tie, waved to the crowd gathered outside the club.

Camilla wore a plush black jacket, dangling pearl earrings, black shoes and a festive red skirt decorated with a floral pattern.

"This is the hottest ticket we've every had," said the show's general manager, David Lincoln King. "It's such an honor for everybody here. It's really incredible."

King recalled that about 20 years, the prince's mother, Queen Elizabeth, visited San Francisco and took in the show.

"It was exciting when his mother, the queen, came in the 1980s," King said.

The royal couple was part of an invitation-only audience. They lingered after the show to meet cast members and have pictures taken with actors dressed in ornate costume hats.

"We've had some major people come to Beach Blanket, but for the cast this is as big as it gets," said the show's producer, Jo Schuman Silver.

The royal couple will visit the "edible gardens" at a Berkeley middle school on what is expected to be a rainy Monday morning.

The school program, which introduces students to growing and preparing meals with organic produce, was the brainchild of acclaimed chef Alice Waters.

California's first lady and Kennedy family member, Maria Shriver, will welcome the royal couple at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, Shriver spokeswoman Terri Carbaugh said in a written release.

Shriver will be greeting the royals on the eve of a special November 8 election focused on controversial political reforms that her superstar governor husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been urging voters to support.

Charles and Camilla were in California as part of an eight-day visit to the United States. They have been warmly embraced by Californians since arriving on Friday.

Camilla has been spared lampooning she endured during the New York City and Washington, D.C., legs of the US visit. The royal couple have seemed at ease in the relaxed West Coast lifestyle.

The royals came here after being feted at the White House in Washington; visiting the site of the September 11 terror attacks in New York, and touring hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.

By most accounts, the pair's trip to the United States -- their first as a married couple -- has been deemed a public relations success, despite polls showing a lack of interest by many Americans.

A recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll found 81 percent of Americans professed little interest in the royal visit and only 19 percent said they would like to meet Charles, 56 and Camilla, 58.

There was considerable public interest Saturday however when the prince and the duchess visited a farmer's market in the Marin County town of Point Reyes Station and shared tips with Charles, an avid gardener.

The royal pair inspected produce and chatted with farmers at an open-air market in the small coastal town of Point Reyes Station.

Charles drew a cheer from the crowd when he stopped on the way out of a pub to pet an aging pug pooch considered the saloon's mascot. The royal couple attended a church service in a small coastal town on Suday and reportedly spent the afternoon painting landscapes north of San Francisco.

The royal couple's visit comes 20 years after Charles and his then-wife, the late Princess Diana, dazzled admirers, with the princess waltzing with actor John Travolta at a dinner given by then-president Ronald Reagan.

The royal couple were due to return to Britain on Tuesday.



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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