WHEN PRINCE CHARLES and wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, hit Philly this weekend, their sizable entourage will include more than a dozen members of the scandal-loving British press.
Hoping for a front-page scoop, most will be praying that the proper prince says something witty or that Camilla appears in a frumpy outfit.
"The Prince of Wales will surprise you, he'll come up with an unusual quote or revelation in the most unlikely place," said Jane Kerr, reporter for London's Daily Mirror, who used to cover the royal family.
"He'll often talk about William and Harry."
The royal couple will be in town as part of a weekend visit to the United States. After appearances here tomorrow and Sunday morning, they will head to New York City where Charles is set to receive an environmental award Sunday night.
It's their second trip stateside since marrying in 2005, but their first to Philadelphia.
Of course, a Philly trip without cheesesteaks, Mummers or Eagles fans seems a little bit hollow. The royal schedule includes Independence Hall, a Mural Arts function, a trip to the International House in West Philly, and the posh Academy Ball tomorrow night.
To some extent, this visit is a public-relations move - an attempt to boost Charles' image in the United States, where people have long been sympathetic to his late first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales.
"Anytime they go to the states, it's Diana territory. That's interesting, their attempts to woo the Americans," Kerr said.
Charles' marriage to Diana - "Shy Di" - in 1981 was a worldwide spectator event, as was their separation and eventual divorce in 1996. (During that time, he revealed in an interview that he had an affair with longtime friend Camilla Parker Bowles.)
Since Diana's death in a car crash in 1997, the royal family has slowly tried to bolster Charles' public persona and put a positive spin on his marriage to Camilla.
And for the most part, it has worked.
"Initially it was all quite raw. It's all very un-English really. Everyone was against her," said Camilla Tominey, the royal editor for the Sunday Express.
But Tominey - who will be part of the British press pool here tomorrow - said that now, "He seems a lot happier. She seems like she's softened him a lot."
Tominey added that serious work has gone into selling Camilla, who sometimes gets bashed in the press for her admittedly middle-aged appearance.
"A lot of effort has been made to rebrand her as more glamorous," she said, noting that Camilla is traveling with "a makeup artist, hairdresser" and "many outfits."
Newer to the public eye, Camilla tends to be cautious with the press, the reporters said.
"She's quiet when he's around. She will take her lead from him and will be his support," Kerr said.
But Camilla also tends to soften up Charles, who isn't always kind to the media, Tominey said.
"He doesn't like us and he doesn't ever acknowledge us. She's warmer than him," Tominey said.
Already, Charles' profile might have been raised a bit in recent months by the Oscar-nominated arthouse film "The Queen," starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, which follows the royal family in the days after Diana's death.
No word on whether the royals have seen the film.
The real reason for the visit is not to see the Liberty Bell. It's the environmental award in New York, presented by former Vice President Al Gore.
Environmental causes are close to the prince's heart. But he has already taken flak from environmental activists for reserving the entire first-class section of a plane for his entourage to fly over here for the ceremony.
"Was it a particularly heavy award?" environment minister David Miliband asked London's Evening Standard.
But whatever the backstory, now that they're coming to town, the local and international press will be hanging around waiting for the money shot.
Tominey noted that Rod Stewart is slated to play the Academy Ball.