PRINCE Harry and Prime Minister David Cameron travelled the streets of Manhattan on a red London bus yesterday, as they showcased British innovation and technology in New York.
A new version of the capital’s iconic Routemaster carried the two men to Manhattan’s trendy meat-packing district for an event highlighting creative UK firms blazing a trail in the US.
The event is part of the Great campaign, a UK government initiative promoting the UK as a place to visit, study and do business in, on the back of the success of the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics.
Thomas Heatherwick, who created the memorable cauldron for the opening ceremony of the London Games, helped design the new bus, commissioned by the capital’s mayor, Boris Johnson.
He joined about 100 guests, including British actress Emilia Clarke, who stars in the popular fantasy series Game of Thrones, and senior executives from companies such as Virgin and British Airways at the reception, staged at Milk Studios, a fashion photography studio that has been used by Madonna.
The function is showcasing British companies making inroads in the United States or hoping to, and their US equivalents working in the UK or planning to invest here.
Before arriving in Manhattan, the prince had surveyed scenes of devastation in two New Jersey seaside towns that suffered the brunt of Superstorm Sandy late last year.
Harry asked to visit the Jersey Shore to see how people are rebuilding their lives after he met an American soldier during his deployment to Afghanistan last year who had lost his home in the storm.
Sandy struck the US east coast in October, killing more than 120 people, and the clear-up will cost tens of billion of dollars.
With New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie as his tour guide, Harry visited towns on a slender barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean. He flew by helicopter from New York to Sea Girt National Guard base before driving in a motorcade to Mantoloking, where houses and buildings reduced to matchwood by the storm litter the shore. Every one of Mantoloking’s 521 homes was damaged or destroyed by Sandy, and scores of homes remain piles of rubble.
Residents of the wealthy community, which is largely a summer retreat, were not allowed to move back until February.
In Seaside Heights, the prince looked at the spot where MTV’s reality show Jersey Shore was filmed. Harry toured the boardwalk, currently under reconstruction and viewed cranes working at the end of Casino Boardwalk, close to the most famous symbol of Superstorm Sandy – the remains of the Jet Star roller-coaster that toppled off an amusement pier. Its demolition is due to begin several hours after his visit.
The prince’s visit is considered a coup for Mr Christie, 50, a Republican who in the days before last year’s presidential election enraged some of his own party members after endorsing Democrat president Barack Obama’s promise of support for New Jersey’s beleaguered communities.
Asked by Maria Hunter, who helped with the relief efforts, what he thought of the scenes in Mantoloking, the prince said: “It was devastating.”
Harry began his seven-day trip of the US by meeting Michelle Obama and joining her in honouring America’s military mothers at a White House reception.
He also visited an exhibition highlighting the work of a landmine charity supported by his late mother, Princess Diana.