The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's black Cadillac Escalade pulled up in front of the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan to a throng of media and shrieking admirers, who were kept behind police barricades across Madison Avenue.
Both smiled at the well-wishers with Kate, who is expecting their second child in April, showing off a small bump underneath her maroon coat.
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"It's good to be here," Prince William told the hotel's managing director Giovanni Beretta, who was standing outside the entrance to greet the royal couple, who had just spent seven hours on a flight from London.
The Carlyle Hotel was a favorite of the duke's mother, the late Princess Diana, during her frequent visits to Manhattan in the 1990s. Other celebrity guests over the years have included Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.
Wendy Hahn and her husband, Paul Hahn, began waiting at 1 p.m. for the royal couple's arrival outside the hotel. By the time they arrived, just before 6 p.m., with temperatures dipping into the 30s, the Hahn's were ordered by police to stand across the street behind metal barricades.
When the duo stepped out of their car in front of the Carlyle entrance, "I didn't see anything," said Wendy Hahn. "It was really disappointing; I saw nothing thanks to the NYPD. And we're kind of numb from the cold."
She had seen another royal couple — Prince Charles and Princess Diana — when they arrived at Andrews Air Force base in the mid-80s and she was in the military.
"I followed Charles and Diana, so I wanted to see William and Kate," said the Connecticut resident, shivering in the cold. "I think they're great; they're more real than other generations of royals."
Paul Hahn said he wouldn't have come, "but I drove in because of my wife."
Earlier Sunday, after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a British Airways flight, the royals were greeted by Peter Westmacott, British ambassador to the U.S., and his wife; British Consul General Danny Lopez; and Peter Selfridge, U.S. chief of protocol.
The Game Plan
Properly known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the royals are making their first official visit to the United States since a 2011 jaunt to California. (Prince William made a personal trip to a friend's Memphis, Tennessee, wedding this May with his brother, Prince Harry.)
The duke and duchess have been looking forward to a three-day trip involving issues "close to both of their hearts," a spokeswoman said.
Kate is expecting their second child in April, but the royals' schedule is packed with plans ranging from paying respects at the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum to taking in a Brooklyn Nets - Cleveland Cavaliers game.
Other events promote British involvement in New York's technology and creative sectors and spotlight the couple's charitable interests in wildlife conservation and child development. Among other commitments, Will will head to a World Bank conference in Washington to discuss fighting illegal trade in wildlife parts, while Kate will tour a New York child development center with the city's first lady, Chirlane McCray.
Prince William and his wife also are due to join Tom Hanks, opera singer Renee Fleming and others at a black-tie, up-to-$10,000-per-seat scholarship fundraiser for the University of St. Andrews, the Scottish institution where the royal couple met and earned degrees.
As an itinerary, "it's trying to cover a lot of points in a short period of time," but it signals the couple's interest in forging ties with Americans who share their philanthropic ideas, says Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty magazine.
NYC, Royalty and 'Royals'
Spain's Queen Letizia toured a public school just in September. Among British royals, Queen Elizabeth II visited in 2010, and Prince Harry hit both New York and Washington last year. The queen's daughter, Princess Anne, opened an exhibition of the Magna Carta in Washington last month.
But the duke and duchesses' watched-round-the-world wedding and parenthood have made them particular magnets for public attention, as a 21st-century royal family in which an heir to the throne drives his newborn home from the hospital himself.
Mayor de Blasio rose to political prominence pledging to champion the middle class — a point underscored when he took his victory-party stage last year to "Royals," pop star Lorde's hit that declares "we'll never be royals ... That kind of luxe just ain't for us." But de Blasio has praised Will and Kate's visit, noting their charitable work and saying he'd like to "see how we can work together."
Traveling, With a Title
Their retinue includes two private secretaries, two media aides, an adviser, a personal assistant, and a privately paid hairdresser for Middleton. The British government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Royal Foundation — the couple's and Prince Harry's charity — and St. Andrews are splitting other trip costs.
The couple's 17-month-old son, Prince George, didn't making the trip.
Acute morning sickness sidelined Middleton for a couple of months earlier this year, but she returned to her royal duties with gusto in late October.
While the royals promote causes, many eyes will doubtless be on Middleton's clothes. A style icon whose outfits can sell out in stores within hours after she's seen in them, she's won fashion-lovers' affection partly because she doesn't always choose complex or custom-made attire: "There's a connection — you can get it," or at least a copy of it, says Michael Casey, a professor at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.
While Kate has been known to favor such designers as British fashion house Alexander McQueen, London-based Roksanda Ilincic, the Brazilian Issa and the British upscale fashion brand LK Bennett, look for her to pack some American labels for the trip: It's a tradition to pay some fashion tributes to a host country.