Prince Planning to Return Next Year : Charles, Diana Leave for Home With Little Fanfare

Times Staff Writer

Prince Charles and Princess Diana concluded a five-day visit to the United States on Wednesday and headed home to Britain.

There was little fanfare as their plane, a Royal Air Force VC-10, lifted off from the airport here. Only a handful of airport workers looked on from the VIP waiting area.

Andrew Burns, press counselor for the British Embassy in Washington, who accompanied the royal couple to Palm Beach, said they "thoroughly enjoyed the visit."

Prince Charles, he said, already has plans that will bring him back to this country next year, to Texas in February and to New England in September. Harvard announced Wednesday that the prince has agreed to be the principal speaker at the university's 350th anniversary celebration next fall.

'Huge Country'

Burns pointed out that the United States is a "huge country" and added, "I think we'll see quite a lot of them."

Many Americans will have warm memories of the royal visit--a hurried handshake, a snippet of conversation. And there were thousands who waited along the couple's way, including many who camped out overnight at a J.C. Penney store in a suburban Virginia mall.

Many had no need to wait. Actor John Travolta danced with the princess at the White House, and actress Joan Collins danced with the prince in Palm Beach.

Burns said Wednesday that Princess Diana had been "bowled over by the warmth of the crowds."

'Down to Earth'

Frances Hammer, the wife of Armand Hammer, chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corp., who arranged the trip to Palm Beach and a fund-raising dinner here, described the princess as "very down to earth and natural."

She saw the royal couple on several occasions but said there was "not too much time to talk." Still, she added, the princess likes to talk about her children.

At a gala dinner here Tuesday night in honor of her husband--which raised about $4 million for Hammer's United World College--the prince talked emotionally about the college and his hope that its graduates will have a future role "in reaching international understanding."

United World College, a pet project of Charles, has six campuses around the world--including one in in Montezuma, N.M.--that bring together gifted students for studies emphasizing the need for world peace and public service.

"I was very pleased," Hammer said of the evening. "I think Palm Beach has recognized that this has been the most important social event of the season."

Burns, speaking for the many British officials who spent months planning the visit, said, "I think we will all go home now and have a good sleep."

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