THE Duke of Cambridge has met US president Barack Obama at the White House as part of a three-day visit.
Prince William held talks with the president in the Oval Office, in advance of the prince’s speech to the World Bank on wildlife crime. President Obama said work to protect endangered species was “very important”.
The prince joked with the president, telling him he was so excited after the birth of Prince George that he forgot to ask whether he was a boy or a girl. He said: “I remember when George was born, I forgot to work out whether it was a boy or a girl. The excitement of the event and everything else was just chaos. You are suddenly… well, actually it’s a boy.”
Prince William predicted a “busy year” in 2015, when his wife, Kate, is due to give birth to the couple’s second child.
The Washington visit marks the diplomatic leg of the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to the US, which is his second in an official capacity. He left the Duchess of Cambridge, in New York City where the couple arrived on Sunday night to hordes of screaming royal fans.
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Kate yesterday visited a centre for disadvantaged children in Harlem with New York City’s First Lady, the mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray.
Mr Obama and the prince had met before, but never on the president’s home turf. The last time the two encountered each other was on the president’s 2011 trip to London, when the Queen hosted a state dinner for the Obamas at Buckingham Palace.
Prince William and Mr Obama’s conversation could barely be heard above the clicking of cameras and reporters shouting questions, but the two could be seen laughing and smiling as they chatted.
Following on from his visit to the president, the prince spoke at the World Bank.
He said: “In my view, one of the most insidious forms of corruption and criminality in the world today is the illegal wildlife trade.”
He attacked those who “loot our planet to feed mankind’s ignorant craving for exotic pets, trinkets, cures and ornaments derived from the world’s vanishing and irreplaceable species”.
Paying tribute to his father, the Prince of Wales, and his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, he said: “They helped to bring about a revolution in attitudes towards our natural environment.
“From them, I learned that our relation to nature and wildlife goes to the heart of our identity as human beings. From our sheer survival, to our appreciation of beauty and our connection to all other living things.
“Seen in this light, the extinction of any of the world’s species of animals is a loss to all humanity.”
He said wildlife crime “goes to the heart of our security”, “distorts economic development” and “fuels sources of conflict”.
The prince, who is currently training as an air ambulance pilot, has only once before visited the US on official business, in 2011, when he and Kate made a brief stop in California following a tour of Canada.
Ahead of the US visit, Danny Lopez, the British consul-general in New York, said there had been “incredible interest” in the royal couple.
Their second child is due in April.
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