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Prince Harry begins 7-day US tour with visits to Capitol Hill, White House

Prince Harry caused a stir in Washington on Thursday, visiting Capitol Hill and the White House, his first stops during a weeklong tour of the United States.

Screaming girls greeted the prince's arrival and staffers lined the halls leading into the rotunda in the Russell Senate Office Building, where Prince Harry was visiting an exhibit by the HALO Trust, of which he is a patron.

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Every move the prince made brought screams from women, who peered into the rotunda to track his every move.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) escorted the prince throughout his 25-minute visit and said their conversation focused on HALO's work.

"Most of the conversation was obviously about the effort being made" to clear landmines, he told reporters after the prince left.

"I find him a very attractive young man," McCain said.



Anne Wernikoff/The Hill

Prince Harry made no public remarks and seemed not to react to the screaming girls as he walked from photograph to photograph and examined a set of dummies, which were dressed in the gear used to clear mines.

McCain said the prince didn't mention the attention but joked, "I get that all the time as I walk in the Russell building."


He said he also told the prince, "I've never seen in all the years I've been here such an unbalanced gender crowd."

Prince Harry, who served as a pilot in Afghanistan, and McCain, who was shot down in the Vietnam War, discussed their military service, McCain said.

"He had known I was shot down, and I had hedged he was probably a much better pilot than I was," the senator said.

Cindy McCain was scheduled to be one of the prince's escorts, but she was having knee trouble and was unable to attend. She had knee replacement surgery in 2007.

Prince Harry was also escorted by HALO Trust Director Guy Willoughby and his wife Fiona Willoughby, who took photos of the exhibit. Prince Harry's mother, the late Princess Diana, was a supporter of HALO's work.

The prince wasn't the only royal on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden were holding court in a room off the House chamber while votes were happening Thursday morning.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members were seen ducking in the room to meet the royals.

The Swedish monarchs are in Washington to mark the 375th anniversary of the founding of New Sweden in present-day Delaware. They will also make stops in New York, Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., during their stay.

After Prince Harry left the Capitol he went to the White House, where he joined Michelle Obama and Jill Biden for a Mother's Day tea celebration.

The event was part of their Joining Forces campaign and celebrated military mothers.

The White House billed Prince Harry as a "special guest."

"Well, surprise," Michelle Obama said when they walked in.

"It is my honor to welcome Prince Harry to the White House today," Obama continued.

The first lady praised Harry's military service and his work with military families.

"He has spent much of his time supporting our wounded warriors and the families of the fallen," she said.

"We are absolutely thrilled he could be with us today."

She said Prince Harry would stay at the event as long as he could to meet with people.

Prince Harry has a packed schedule while he is in the States and tonight will attend a reception at the British Embassy. On Friday he will lay a wreath at Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He will then visit with wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The prince then heads to Colorado where he will attend several events at the 2013 Warrior Games.

He'll be back on the East Coast on Tuesday, where'll he tour some of the residential areas still devastated from Hurricane Sandy, escorted by Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.).

On his last visit to the States, in August, Prince Harry made headlines for nude photos of the prince taken in Las Vegas.

Christie said that won't happen again.

“Believe me, nobody’s going to get naked if I’m spending the entire day with Prince Harry,” Christie said in a radio interview in March, when the visit was announced.

Prince Harry will then be in New York City for fundraising events and to meet with British business leaders.

On Wednesday Prince Harry will hold the final event of his trip: He'll play in a polo match in Greenwich, Conn. The proceeds will benefit his Sentebale charity that helps children in Lesotho, Africa.