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Charles And Camilla's Visit Rekindles Royal Ties To Kentucky


Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, wrap up a four-day visit to the United States today. Their final stop is in Kentucky, Louisville - or, as I learned to say it when I lived in Kentucky, (pronouncing it differently) Louisville. Louisville has been bustling with preparations for their arrival. As Rick Howlett at our member station WFPL reports, the city is accustomed to royal visits.


LOUISVILLE YOUTH CHOIR: (Singing) The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home...

RICK HOWLETT, BYLINE: That's the Louisville Youth Choir rehearsing "My Old Kentucky Home." Teacher Terri Foster is preparing the ensemble for its performance of the state song for the royals. It's gotten a special arrangement just for the occasion.


TERRI FOSTER: I'm going to really be picky - OK? - because I think that's what you want, all right? You're going to get one chance on Friday. Here we go.


HOWLETT: This is the first official visit by the prince and duchess to Kentucky. But they should feel right at home. It's been a popular destination for other members of the modern royal family, mainly because of their passion for horses and the Kentucky Derby.

JOHN MCLEOD: They've been coming here for years.

HOWLETT: John McLeod is a history professor at the University of Louisville.

MCLEOD: The queen, of course, was at the Derby in 2007. Her sister, Princess Margaret, was at the Derby way back in 1974, I think it was. And the queen herself is a fairly regular visitor to this state.

HOWLETT: There are many other deep Kentucky-British connections. Three U.S. ambassadors to the United Kingdom have had Kentucky ties, including the current one, Matthew Barzun of Louisville. For the royal couple, this Kentucky visit is focused more on issues than the sport of kings. It was Ambassador Barzun's mother-in-law who invited the prince to attend the local health and environment symposium. Prince Charles has praised Louisville's efforts to increase access to sustainable, healthy foods and has long admired Kentucky author and environmentalist Wendell Berry. Jeremy Coxon is excited about the royal visit. He's vice president of a company that installs solar and wind-powered systems in Kentucky and Indiana. He's also a native of northern England.

JEREMY COXON: To see the prince come to Louisville to speak in exactly the area that we are most concerned about is just - it's just tremendous.


HOWLETT: One of the duchess's stops will be at Neighborhood House, a community center in Louisville's Portland neighborhood where many people live below the poverty level. Neighborhood House provides educational and nutritional services for hundreds of at-risk children each year. These preschoolers are making dolls to present to the duchess. Denise Sears works at Neighborhood House. She's grateful for the attention the royal visit will bring to the center and hopes it will inspire the children to set their sights high.

DENISE SEARS: What do you want your life to be? What do you want to do? And if there was ever any hesitancy on their part to dream big, the fact that the duchess is coming to Neighborhood House I think will empower them to dream big.

HOWLETT: The royal visit won't be completely without a nod to horse racing. The Duchess of Cornwall will attend a reception for an animal welfare organization at the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. For NPR News, I'm Rick Howlett in Louisville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rick has been a member of the WFPL News team since 2001 and has covered numerous beats and events over the years. Most recently he’s been tracking the Indiana General Assembly and the region’s passion for sports, especially college basketball.
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