White House

A royal watcher’s delight: Prince William drops into D.C.

World Bank

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, started off his first trip to Washington on Monday with a common touch: He boarded a commercial shuttle that flies hourly between New York and the nation’s capital.

Of course, he was immediately spotted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who was on the same flight and helpfully tweeted it.

The grandson of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, Prince William left New York and his pregnant wife, Kate Middleton, for a few hours to meet with President Barack Obama. He also met with Vice President Joe Biden and spoke at the World Bank.

The three-day goodwill visit to the U.S. by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has generated intense media attention, especially because of the duchess, a magnet for royal watchers. But Prince William was still a big solo draw in Washington, where hundreds of World Bank workers waited for hours in the atrium of the headquarters a few blocks from the White House for a glimpse. He spoke to a conference about stopping illegal trading in wildlife, a personal mission of his family and him.

He also took a short tour of the White House – which the British famously burned during the War of 1812 – met with Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, and then spent some time with Obama in the Oval Office.

“The president and Duke of Cambridge discussed the long and special relationship between the U.K. and the United States,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “In addition, the Duke of Cambridge briefed the president on his initiative to combat the illegal wildlife trade, an issue to which the president and this administration are strongly committed.”

According to a video posted by Sky News, the prince told Obama when the press was briefly allowed in to their meeting what it was like when the prince’s first child, George, was born in July 2013.

“I remember when George was born, I forgot to work out whether it was a boy or a girl,” Prince William told Obama. “The excitement of the event and everything else was just chaos. You are suddenly. . . . Well, actually it’s a boy. So now, it’s good. It’s going to be interesting next year. A busy year next year.”

The duchess is about four months pregnant.

In the policy part of his Washington visit, the prince spoke to the Third Biennial Meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance hosted by the World Bank. The prince, the president of United for Wildlife, a part of his family’s Royal Foundation, joined World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the opening session and spoke to more than 300 participants.

“In my view, one of the most insidious forms of corruption and criminality in the world today is the illegal wildlife trade,” Prince William told the audience. “Here, criminal gangs turn vast profits from the illegal killing or capture of wildlife, armed groups and terrorists swap poached ivory for guns and middlemen oil the wheels of the trade in return for reward.”

He announced a new task force, chaired by former British Foreign Secretary William Hague, focused on transport industries – airlines and shipping lines – to crack down on the movement of the illegal goods, usually from Africa and other foreign markets.

In a particularly emphatic moment in the speech, the prince said, “I am determined not to let the world´s children grow up on a planet where our most iconic and endangered species have been wiped out.”