Philadelphia prepares for for visit from Prince Charles and Camilla

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are making a whirlwind trip to the Philadelphia this weekend that will pack a wide range of culture into a very short time.

The highly anticipated visit Saturday by the British royal couple will last about 24 hours and include everything from historic sites to modern neighborhoods, fine arts patrons to urban painters, and gospel hymns to classical music. Not to mention opera singer Deborah Voigt and Rod Stewart.

"Their Royal Highnesses are going to experience a very broad cross-section of Philadelphia," said Oliver St. Clair Franklin, the city's honorary British consul.

Though some details have not been released for security reasons, the Prince of Wales and Camilla are expected to be welcomed at Independence Hall. Though the building is where American colonists severed their ties with Britain in 1776, the couple can expect warm greetings from Mayor John F. Street and Gov. Ed Rendell.

The prince and duchess will visit the Liberty Bell and then attend a reception nearby at the National Constitution Center, according to the British Consulate-General.

"There's a great deal of excitement," said Stephanie Naidoff, the city's commerce director. "We're really honored they they've chosen us."

Later in the afternoon, the couple will travel a few miles to West Philadelphia to meet with college students and to see a handful of the city's 2,700 murals. The Mural Arts Program is one of the largest public art initiatives in the country.

Program director Jane Golden said she was "really thrilled and honored" when told that Prince Charles would be coming to see the group's work. It makes sense, she said, because part of the focus of his trip is youth development and urban renewal. The prince is also known for his passion for architecture.

"The work we do really ties in with his interests," Golden said. "I really want to show them the depth and breadth of the work we do here in Philadelphia."

The couple will see several murals in the rough-and-tumble Mantua neighborhood followed by a stop at Heavenly Hall Full Gospel Church. There, the couple will meet mural artists and other members of the community, said Golden.

"They're going to be meeting just, you know, everyday citizens of this city who help make Philadelphia what it is," Golden said.

Golden will invite the heir to the British throne to express his creativity with paint on parachute cloth, which could later be incorporated into a mural.

Also in West Philadelphia, the couple will stop at International House, a nonprofit organization housing nearly 400 students, scholars and interns from more than 65 countries. The prince will hear a student panel discussion of urban regeneration in their respective homelands.

"Philadelphia is an international city and we have global citizens here, and the prince's interest shows that," said Franklin, the honorary consul who also serves as director of International House.

On Saturday night, the couple will attend a white-tie event at the Academy of Music in downtown Philadelphia. The academy is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a concert, ball and parade down Broad Street, including the Mummers sort of Philadelphia's version of Mardi Gras krewes.

Former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw will serve as one of the concert hosts, academy officials said. The night will include a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra; opera selections by soprano Deborah Voigt and tenor Ben Heppner; a medley of show tunes sung by actor John Lithgow; and pop songs by Rod Stewart, reports AP.

The couple will end its visit to Philadelphia after a church service on Sunday morning, the consulate said.

From there, they are due to take a private train to New York, where they will visit a social services agency in Harlem. Later that night, Prince Charles will receive an environmental award given by Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment.

The award will be presented in New York by former Vice President Al Gore, who received the honor last year.

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