DANVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Milton Reigelman figures at worst, it's a harmless invitation. At best, Reigelman said, it could lead to a
royal visit to central Kentucky. Reigelman, chairman of the Danville Sister Cities Commission, extended an invitation to Prince William and Catherine. Along with being the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they also hold the titles of Baron and Baroness of Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, a sister city to Danville.
Reigelman told The Advocate-Messenger that a strong relationship has developed between the commission and the current and former mayors of Carrickfergus. It's a bond Reigelman hopes will lead to support for a royal visit and eventually an appearance by the couple themselves. "We would definitely roll out the red carpet for them whenever they came," Reigelman said. A royal invitation on city of Danville letterhead likely already has made its way to the couple via the Royal Mail. Reigelman sent the letter late last month to the couple's home at London's St. James Palace. Reigelman emphasized several factors that could actually work in Danville's favor. In addition to promoting the idea of Danville as a slice of quintessential small town America, Reigelman also lists some of the historical and cultural claims to fame, including the 2000 vice-presidential debate at Centre College and a recent performance at the Norton Center for the Arts by the Vienna Philharmonic. He's also pitching family connections to the couple.
William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, has stayed at former British Ambassador William Farish's Lane's End Farm in Versailles for state and personal visits, and the farm handles some of her horses. Then there is the connection with Carrickfergus, which prompted the effort in the first place and may be the most compelling factor.
Reigelman figures the royal couple will make a visit to Carrickfergus, which likely would come on short notice, considering
its proximity to London, and could offer the chance for local officials there to plant the seed on Danville's behalf. Although he is awaiting what will likely be a standard response to the invitation before asking for help, Reigelman said the current mayor of Carrickfergus is supportive of the idea and may also write a letter on Danville's behalf. But, Reigelman said, he's also aware that the chances of a royal visit are slim. But, he's hopeful.