If everything goes according to his meticulously arranged schedule, the Prince of Wales should get his first peek at Philadelphia by tea time this afternoon.
He and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are expected to arrive on a British Airways flight with an entourage of 18, beginning a day-and-a-half visit that has swept up scores of Philadelphians in final preparations, from traffic cops and art students to a gospel choir and a South Street businessman who is standing by to prepare organic cheesesteaks.
"Anything the prince wants," said Patrick Dougherty, owner of Steaks on South. "I've even got goat cheese made with raw milk."
Organizers of the visit have taken pains to showcase the city in ways that celebrate its ties to the kingdom.
A large sign proclaiming Croesco i Philadelphia (Welsh for "Welcome to Philadelphia"), which will greet the couple when they arrive at Independence Hall tomorrow for their first official appearance, was created by students at Moore College of Art and Design. The school was founded in 1848 by Sarah Peter, wife of British consul William Peter, and modeled on London's Female School of Design.
"We're really excited about this," said Amanda Mott, a spokeswoman for the college.
The couple's military escort at the historic site will be provided by the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, many of its members recently returned from a deployment to Iraq with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. They will be wearing the same uniform the First Troop wore when Charles' great-great-grandfather, the last Prince of Wales to visit the city, was here in 1860.
On that visit, the teen prince - the future King Edward VII - visited Girard College, where he planted two horse chestnut trees that survive today. A representative of the boarding school, second grader Shirla Hector, 7, has been chosen to present a bouquet of lavender, white roses and white lisianthus to the duchess at Independence Hall.
And when the royal couple attend Sunday morning services at Arch Street Presbyterian Church, one of the readings will be in Welsh, and the Orpheus Club of Philadelphia choir will sing "God Bless the Prince of Wales" as Charles, 58, and Camilla, 59, leave the church.
That's the fun stuff.
But no visit by a dignitary would be complete without traffic tie-ups and bus detours.
Center City, West Philadelphia and the historic district will be gridlocked at times tomorrow and Sunday as the royals attend a Mural Arts Program reception in Mantua, visit with International House students at 37th and Chestnut Streets, and rub elbows with society swells at the 150th Anniversary Academy Ball and Concert.
Sections of Broad Street south of City Hall will be closed entirely or badly jammed from tonight through Sunday at noon.
Souvenir-shopping isn't on the official itinerary, but Oliver St. Clair Franklin, honorary British consul in Philadelphia, said a number of people have asked him to deliver gifts to the prince.
Local watercolorist Noel G. Miles, known for his images of Philadelphia landmarks, has offered a painting.
Eagles spokeswoman Bonnie Grant is sending a football autographed by Donovan McNabb, with a letter from team owner Jeffrey Lurie.
"The Brits are fascinated by football," she said. Charles' hometown of London, in fact, will be the site this fall of the first regular-season NFL game played outside North America.
Beyond gifts, Philadelphians have also contacted organizers with suggestions of places the prince and duchess should see while they're here.
Jane Golden, head of the Mural Arts Program, said she got a call from someone asking, "Do you think he could stop at the Reading Terminal Market?"
Another suggested the Mutter Museum on South 22d Street, which, among other medical oddities, includes a collection of objects extracted from people's throats.
Some Philadelphians worried that the couple might be turned off by what they saw.
"What are they going to do about the litter?" asked one caller to The Inquirer. "I hope they're out right now cleaning up."
Said another: "We think it is just a terrible, terrible idea to subject the royal couple to our murals."
On Sunday afternoon, Charles and Camilla will board a private train to New York, where the prince will collect an environmental award from former Vice President Al Gore.
Riding with them will be five Philadelphians, chosen by the prince's staff for their work in urban revitalization and youth empowerment: Kenny Gamble, songwriter, producer and developer; Sister Mary Scullion, Project HOME cofounder; C. Kent McGuire, dean of Temple University's College of Education; Paul Levy, head of the Center City District; and Patricia L. Smith, who led the city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative and now is with the Reinvestment Fund.
"The prince," said Franklin, the British consul, "is going to have an hour and a half of wonderful conversation."
The first official chance to catch a glimpse of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be about 11:15 a.m. tomorrow when they arrive in their motorcade in the 500 block of Walnut Street.
From there they will walk to Independence Hall to be welcomed by Gov. Rendell, Mayor Street, and National Park Service officials.
The rest of the tour looks like this:
The Liberty Bell: Visit with students.
National Constitution Center: Reception with community leaders and members of the local British community.
Mural "Reading: A Journey," 40th and Pennsgrove Streets: Ceremony.
Heavenly Hall Full Gospel Church, 4012 Poplar St.: Meeting with Mural Arts Program artists, students and organizers.
International House, 3701 Chestnut St.: Discussion on urban regeneration, visit to student living quarters, reception.
Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St.: 150th Anniversary Academy Ball and Concert.
Arch Street Presbyterian Church, 1724 Arch St.: Worship service.
30th Street Station: Departure for New York via private train.
In New York, Prince Charles will receive the Global Environmental Citizen Award from Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment.
What you need to know about street closings. A14.