Today I was thinking again about this story and wondering if Mark even wants his audience to think in royal terms. When reading the Greek, I noticed another strange omission. Mark doesn't use the term ἀπάντησις. Apantēsis is the word that we might expect for a "royal meeting." In short, when dignitaries entered cities, they would often be greeted by a parade of people outside the city who would then accompany the person(s) of honor as they completed their journey. Josephus offers a great description of this:
But when the people of Antioch were informed that Titus was approaching, they were so glad at it, that they could not keep within their walls, but hasted away to give him the meeting; nay, they proceeded as far as thirty furlongs, and more, with that intention. These were not the men only, but a multitude of women also with their children did the same; and when they saw him coming up to them, they stood on both sides of the way, and stretched out their right hands, saluting him, and making all sorts of acclamations to him, and turned back together with him. (JW 7.100-102)This term is used a few times in the New Testament, but never to refer to Jesus' entry [although, cf. 1 Thess 4:17]. If Jesus got "the meeting" from anyone in Jerusalem, Mark neglects to mention it. After a close reading of Mark 11, it seems that nobody (save a few boisterous disciples) knew or cared about Jesus.
Finally Jerusalem's collective disinterest in Jesus at this point might fit well with Mark's larger literary agenda. Jesus is on his way to conflict, betrayal, and crucifixion. But none of this has happened yet to draw anyone's attention. Jesus probably wasn't yet on anyone's radar in Jerusalem. If so, Jesus' entry would not have been seen as a "royal meeting" in anyway recognizable to the folks of Jerusalem.