Scene & Heard: Duke of Edinburgh's Award International Association and Young Americans' Challenge

Pictured: Truman Semans, George Stamas, Prince Edward and Chuck Newhall Excitement hung in the air -- along with the standard summer mugginess -- in the garden outside the Baltimore County home of Todd and Karen Ruppert. A few dozen friends had gathered for the rare opportunity to meet royalty. Britain's Prince Edward would be joining them for dinner and spreading the word on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, a four-step self-development program for young people, ages 14-25, which his father, Prince Philip, founded in 1956. As folks sipped cocktails, Prince Edward made his way through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting guests including Henry Hagan, retired Monumental Life president/CEO, and his wife, Sims Hagan, community volunteer; George Roche, retired T. Rowe Price CEO; Truman Semans, Brown Advisory vice chair, with wife Nellie Semans, community volunteer; George Stamas, Kirkland & Ellis senior partner, and wife Georgia Stamas, community volunteer; Suzi Cordish, community volunteer; Terry Morgenthaler, community volunteer; Adam Gross, Ayers Saint Gross principal; and David Dipietro, Hidden Cove Advisory founder, with wife Christy Dipietro, community volunteer. Cinnie May, JBM Designs owner, and Pam Gillin, community volunteer, waited their turn with a bit of trepidation. "I'm a little nervous about protocol," Gillin said. Their husbands, Herb May, Signal Hill managing director, and John Gillin, FBR managing director, had already crossed that bridge. They had spent the afternoon with the prince, U.S. board president of the award and challenge Sam Haskell, U.S. executive director of the award and challenge Josh Randle, and Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan as they made several stops around Baltimore, including the Living Classrooms Foundation and Garrison Forest School. "He's very cool and easy to talk to," May said. "It's very clear he's very comfortable wherever he is. I saw it with the kids this afternoon. The poor guy had to 'speed date' today with so many organizations," said Mark Collins, Living Classrooms board chair and Brown Advisory partner, there with his wife, Vicky Collins, farm manager. Meanwhile, Robyn Allers, college relations liaison at McDaniel College, had done her homework. "I looked up what to call him, and protocol is that it's ‘Your Royal Highness’ the first time you're introduced, and after that it's ‘sir,'" she said. "That's the same thing for college presidents," joked her husband, Roger Casey, McDaniel College president. Hostess Karen Ruppert said she hadn't yet had a chance to meet His Royal Highness because she had spent the day getting the house ready for that evening. "He seems like a really nice gentleman. Todd's met him several times and has said how nice he is. So I kind of knew what he would be like," she said. The prince's engaging nature soon had everyone at ease. By time for dinner under an open tent, the only thing stuffy about the evening was the humidity. Amy Newhall, community volunteer, was surprised to find herself seated next to the royal guest of honor. "He was so down to earth. The perfect dinner partner; he had a lot to ask," she said afterward. "He is good at what he does: raising some money to help support the award in the U.S. and getting CEOs and business owners involved in being mentors," host Todd Ruppert said. Even a heckler in the crowd failed to ruffle the noble feathers as the relaxed royal addressed the gathering. Hidden in nearby shrubbery, a tree frog's constant croaks gave him a run for his money -- and the microphone -- as well as a few chuckles all around. -- Sloane Brown Monica Lopossay, Special to The Baltimore Sun
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