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Obama highlights monarchy's appeal

The Prince of Wales meets David Miliband (right) at an event to promote the reduction of plastic waste in the marine environment in Washington DC on the second day of a four day visit to the United States.
The Prince of Wales meets David Miliband (right) at an event to promote the reduction of plastic waste in the marine environment in Washington DC on the second day of a four day visit to the United States.

President Barack Obama has confessed to the Prince of Wales that Americans are not only fond of the Royal Family, but like them better than their own politicians.

The US leader highlighted the appeal of the British monarchy as the two men sat down for informal talks in the White House's famous Oval Office.

The Obamas have developed their own close bond with the Queen and her family, with the First Lady and the monarch striking up a firm friendship during the president's 2011 state visit to the UK.

The Prince and the president last spoke face to face in the United States almost four years ago when Charles flew there a few days after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

This time he was joined by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, and vice president Joe Biden made an appearance.

The Prince and the president sat together in two chairs with their backs to an ornate fireplace while Camilla and Mr Biden sat nearby, opposite each other on sofas.

Mr Obama told Charles: "I think it's fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family," and the prince replied: "That's awfully nice to know."

The US president then joked: "They like them much better than they like their own politicians," and Charles added with a laugh: "I don't believe that."

Charles told the US leader about his visit yesterday to Mount Vernon - the home of America's first president, George Washington.

He said: "I tell you what was nice was going back to Mount Vernon yesterday," and Mr Obama described the historic home as "wonderful".

Charles added: "Because you know, I was there 45 years ago, in 1970, so it was fantastic. It is very special there."

Dozens of photographers, journalists and cameramen had been allowed in to the room for the start of the meeting and the prince looked around as camera shutters went off and boom microphones were pushed towards them.

Charles pointed out one of the British press corps to the president - the Sun newspaper's veteran royal photographer, Arthur Edwards.

He told Mr Obama he had been photographing the prince for more than 35 years and when he added that the first president he had reported on in the US was Ronald Reagan, the American leader replied: "Awesome."

Before the photocall began, the Obama family's dogs, Bo and Sonny, were seen returning to the White House after being taken for a walk.

Earlier, Charles proved that when it comes to 10-pin bowling he has not inherited the skills of his ancestor, Henry VIII.

The Tudor king famously had a bowling alley built at Hampton Court Palace, but Charles found the sport a little tricky when he was invited to have a go during a tour of a US Armed Forces retirement home.

The six-lane bowling alley gives the veterans who live at the home in Washington a recreational work-out and keeps them active.

Chief Petty Officer Patricia Kirchner, who manages the alley, told the Prince as he walked over to the lanes: "I've got a couple of bowling balls picked out - just try one.''

With Camilla at his side, Charles, who had turned down the offer of some bowling shoes, confessed: "I haven't done this for a long time."

But he gingerly picked up a bowling ball and sent it down the fifth lane more in hope than expectation.

His execution looked good but the ball ran wide and clipped three pins which toppled over. He turned to Camilla and said: "At least I got one."

Bill Bowen, an 80-year-old retired staff sergeant from the US Air Force, said: "He did pretty good", adding: "I told him I was the worst bowler in this alley and he said 'No, I am'.''

The royal couple were given a tour of the home which is set in the same grounds as the Lincoln Cottage where the president is believed to have written the last draft of the emancipation proclamation.

Charles and Camilla stood on the veranda of the home and then visited veterans in a fitness centre and met others who had taken up art in their retirement or worked with ceramics.

Later Charles carried out a solo visit, touring the Carlos Rosario international public charter school, which provides education and training for Washington's adult immigrant population. Many of the institution's students come from South America and places like Ethiopia.

Charles was greeted by a Mexican mariachi band when he arrived, and as he left he got into the swing of things, moving in time to the music and dancing a few steps as he walked away to the exit.


From Belfast Telegraph