Close Encounter of Royal Kind: Local Meets Duke and Duchess
Daryl Cameron was accustomed to dealing with princes and princesses: He used to work at Disneyland.
But no part-time Cinderella prepared the 1986 Pinecrest High School graduate for shaking hands with their royal highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka Will and Kate Windsor, when they visited California on July 8.
"They are even more attractive in person, very warm and friendly," Cameron says.
He was in London on business for the wedding, but enjoyed the festivities at street level only.
This encounter, however, was not bystander's luck. Cameron is executive manager of the British Consulate General in Los Angeles, where he oversees the office and official residence of Consul General Dame Barbara Hay. VIPs are his bread and butter.
Planning started in March, before the royal nuptials April 29, with minute-by-minute scheduling by reconnaissance teams.
"We worked with the palace (Buckingham) and Clarence House (residence of the Duke and Duchess while in London) to prepare for their arrival," Cameron says.
Touchdown lasted but 48 hours.
They were easy guests, with few special requests: simple foods like poached salmon and shepherd's pie - and apple juice for the duke. The couple and entourage (secretary, lady-in-waiting and, reportedly, a hairdresser) slept in "ordinary guest rooms" in the luxurious Mediterranean-style villa designed by Roaring '20s architect Wallace Neff, who created Pickfair for Mary Pickford and a home owned by Groucho Marx.
The British government purchased the residence in 1958.
"I saw them at the front door when they arrived," Cameron says. "They are taller in person - absolutely everything you want them to be."
Protocol forbids questions - do not extend a hand in greeting or speak unless being spoken to. No photos were allowed during private moments when the couple roamed the house. The road was closed to all but neighbors during the visit.
Cameron and several others had a private audience before William and Catherine's departure.
"They thanked me for making the trip comfortable and pleasant," Cameron says.
He received a small box of chocolates bearing the insignia of Highgrove, the estate of Prince Charles.
According to Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates ... you never know what you'll get."
With this box, Cameron got dazzling smiles and "a great memory."
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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