Beth Longo smoother her Prince Valiant haircut.

In five minutes, a Real Prince would be landing at Andrews Air Force Base. Longo, with her seventh grade "g & t" (gifted and talented) classmates from Holmes Intermediate School in Fairfax County, stood behind the hurricane fence, all wisecracks and jitters.

What do you think of Prince Charles?

"He's funny," says Longo. "I saw him on '60 Minutes.' I got a kick out of him."

Is he sexy?

"Yeeesss," the preteens answer.

Is he clumsy?

"Only on horses," says 13-year-old Paul Daniels.

Should America have a prince?

"Yeeesss," they answer in unison.


"John Travolta," says 12-year-old Maureen Collins.

Actually, the whole thin was Longo's idea. When she heard Prince Charles was coming to America, she wrote a letter to the State Department, asking for permission to greet him. It was as simple as that. They didn't want to come empty-handed, so Longo and her classmates pasted together a cookbook for Lady Diana Spencer, Prince Charles' intended.

The cookbook is wrapped in a silver box with a big bow. They take it out, proudly. Inside, there are pages and pages of recipes with the schoolchildren's pictures pasted beside each of their contributions: "Chocolate Crinkles," Supersweet Cupcakes," "Skilletburgers" and "Perfect Apple Pie."

"Maybe some night when she can't think of anything else to cook, she'll look in here," says Collins.

An official-looking man in a pinstriped suit comes over to the group. The prince will not be coming over to talk with the group after all, so he'll just take the cookbook and make sure Prince Charles gets it. The kids look crushed. They hand the package over.

On the tarmac, a pen has been set up for the press. There are a lot of cameras. The reporters wonder aloud if Prince Charles will say anything. Will he walk to the microphones' Will he tell us his favorite ice cream flavor? By the way, what's he doing here anyway?

"Well, they had to do something with him before the wedding," says one British journalist.

Leonore Annenberg, White House chief of protocol and wife of former ambassador to Great Britian Walter Annenberg, arrives. She is wearing a purple suit. Royal purple. She greets Lady Mary Henderson, who is wearing a straw hat the resembles the top layer of a wedding cake. It is a large straw boater with a wide turquoise band and white flower pinned on the side. Lady Henderson is the wife of British Ambassador Sir Nicholas Henderson, who stands against the press pen, shuffling his feet.

"I love your hat," Lee Annenberg says to Lady Henderson.

The hat is by Laura Ashley, British fabric and wallpaper designer. The hat, in fact, matches the Laure Ashley wallpaper in the embassy bedroom where Prince Charles will sleep this weekend. "It's called the Laura Ashley room," says Lady Henderson.

They planned a small dinner for HRH last night: smoked haddock, George V pie and sorbet.

John Fretwell, minister at the British Embassy, arrives with his wife, Mary, who is wearing a modified straw hat and azalea-pink suit.

"Oh, I love that color," Lee Annenberg says to Mary Fretwell.

Sudedenly, at 3:25, the huge Royal Air Force DC 10 taxies to a landing.

"King," the German sheperd, has sniffed around for bombs and found none. They wheel the steps to the plane.

"THERE HE IS!" one of the photographers shouts.

Prince Charles appears at the door, a surprisingly short man, in brown wavy hair, gray suit and white handkerchief in his breast pocket. He walks very carefully down the steps. No pictures of princely pratfalls for this arrival.

He greets Leonore Annenberg. She curtsies. He greets Lady Henderson.

She curtsies. He says a few words to Sir Nicholas Henderson. He bows his head and studies the tops of his shoes.

Then, Prince Charles walks straight past the press pen. Straight past CBS News. Straight past NBC News. Straight past Time and Newsweek. He makes a beeline for Beth Longo.

"OH GOD I DON'T BELIEVE THIS," says one reporter. The reporters and photographers are trapped in the press pen. They are not allowed on the tarmac. They are not allowed to foloow Prince Charles as he greets about 100 well-wishers, one of whom is flying a Welsh flag.

"Exquisitely planned," grouses Susan Spencer of CBS News.

Prince Charles shakes a few more hands, then turns and heads off in a black limousine for the embassy.

The rope is lowered on the press pen, and two dozen trench coats fly over to the fence. "WHAT DID HE SAY???" they are screaming in unison.

"Well," says 10-year-old Patrick Young, giving exclusinve interviews to at least three television stations, "he asked me how I managed to be here. I said I just got out of school. He asked me if the teacher knew. I said no."

Why did Patrick Young want to meet the prince?

"My mom made me," he says.