Royal Visit in Mount Vernon

After waiting for an hour on the front yard of Mount Vernon Estate, the crowd was rewarded by the appearance of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Charles wore a double-breasted blue suit tailored by Anderson & Sheppard, while Duchess Camilla wore a taupe-colored coat and dress designed by Bruce Oldfield, with silky circular insets.

The Royals were greeted at the Estate by Mount Vernon Director and CEO Curt Viebranz; Mount Vernon Ladies Association Regent Barbara Lucas; Mount Vernon’s SVP of Historic Preservations & Collections Carol Cadou; and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. (Photo above: Prince Charles, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Mount Vernon’s SVP of Historic Preservations & Collections Carol Cadou.)

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Camilla and Prince Charles

This was just one of many sites that Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla visited throughout the DC Metropolitan area when they recently came to the United States. The last time Prince Charles visited Alexandria was 1970, and this was the first visit with  Camilla Parker-Bowles since they married in 2005.

While the Prince’s visit to Mount Vernon was not officially announced until the day before, word had gotten out and people lined up around Mount Vernon to greet the future King and his wife. There were just as many who just happened to be at Mount Vernon that day and had the added bonus of seeing Prince Charles and Camilla as they toured the grounds.

Ellen Moyseovich was at Mount Vernon, and said, “It was thrilling and he was quite gracious and engaged with a lot of people on Wednesday. As I walked down the hill to the tomb, I passed at least 20 people on their phones saying, ‘You will not believe what just happened to me at Mt Vernon!!!’

“It was a wonderful day and they were both incredibly gracious spending a few minutes – engaged, focused minutes – with many of the well-wishers lining their route – young and old, with two legs and four,” said Moyseovich.

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Donald Francisco Plays “God Save the Queen” for Prince Charles and Duchess Camille

Prince Charles approached Donald Francisco, history interpreter and fifer, and asked him if he could play a tune. “He approached me and we talked and I suggested that I play ‘God Save the Queen,’ which I played for the Queen when she visited President Bush in 2007,” Francisco said. Formerly with the United States Army Fife and Drum Corp, Francisco added: “He [the Prince] was very grateful and very kind. It was very special – once in a lifetime and I was honored to do it.”

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Kitty Morgan with Sons Sam and Jem

Kitty Morgan knew that the Prince was planning to visit Mount Vernon and excused her two boys, Sam and Jem, from school for the day. Morgan recently moved to the Mount Vernon area from England and said that it was much easier to see him in America. “We live in Mount Vernon – two minutes from the gates,” she said. “We are excited that Prince Charles is here talking to community leaders. Both Charles and Camilla have done so much for England.”

The group toured the mansion and then visited the Tomb and the Mount Vernon Wharf. Dean Norton, director of horticulture, had spent the week before grooming the grounds in preparation for the visit. “Washington said that ‘nothing would contribute more than the proper management of our lands,’” said Norton. “Prince Charles is doing the same – he is very interested in sustainable gardening so this is a great time for his visit.”

The Wharf is significant in that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth dedicated the Wharf during her visit in 1991. Mike Quinn was Deputy Director at Mount Vernon at the time. He was there for the Queen’s visit – along with his wife, Carolyn, and daughters, Sara and Lucy. They remember the visit fondly – a picture of their older daughter, Sara, with the Queen still hangs on their wall at home.

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Prince Charles Talks to Curt Viebranz and Steve Bashore about Farming

The Prince’s final visit was the Pioneer Farm, where he spoke to Mount Vernon’s Director of Trades, Steve Bashore, about farming and gardening practices.

In Washington D.C., Elaine Flynn, tour guide, was guiding a school group and happened to be in the right place at the right time. She said, “The excitement built from the time we arrived at 9:30 a.m. (myself and 21 school children from Florida). The press was already gathered at the stairs and we heard he was scheduled to arrive at l0 a.m. So…we waited. It was freezing and windy! But what an experience of a lifetime! The thrill was the excitement of the crowds walking up the stairs with him. As a National Park Service woman explained the memorial to him and Camilla (with Doris Kearns Goodwin accompanying them), people took picture after picture. After he walked down the stairs, he spent a good five minutes talking to people and shaking their hands.”

Photos by Gale Curcio, except the one of Donald Francisco

About Gale Curcio (15 Articles)
Gale Curcio is a freelance writer who writes for several local publications. She manages Curcio Connections, a multi-faceted business that focuses on running Estate Sales (salebygale.com), retail, and writing. She was a reporter and editor with the Connection Newspapers for over 10 years. She also spent four years doing development, marketing and communications for non-profit organizations. Visit her website at www.curcioconnections.com.