May 9, 2013 at 5:08 PM ET
On the first day of his week-long American tour, Prince Harry made a most charming appearance at a Mother’s Day tea hosted by first lady Michelle Obama.
Looking dapper in a dark suit and tie, Harry surprised the guests of the White House event on Thursday afternoon. He mingled with children backstage as they assembled gift bags for their mothers, then emerged in a formal dining area before the moms themselves, who cheered and gasped at his presence.
“Surprise!” Mrs. Obama told the moms, many of whom are service members in the U.S. armed forces.
The guests applauded Harry’s military service in Britain’s Royal Air Force and his volunteer efforts in support of wounded veterans. Following the tea, they filed out to meet Harry one-on-one and take photos with him.
Also on Thursday, Prince Harry and Sen. John McCain toured a Capitol Hill exhibit by HALO Trust, a landmine-clearing charity that was close to the heart of Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.
As Harry and McCain entered the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building near the Capitol, dozens of congressional staffers — mostly women — crushed into the hallways and stairwells to catch a glimpse of the young royal. They shrieked when he walked into view and had to be shushed by security.
When later asked about how Harry reacted to this, McCain said the prince “just kind of seemed to be a little ... the word isn't embarrassed, but ... I’m sure it’s not the first time that he’s had that experience.”
Prince Harry also had plans to visit the British Embassy on Thursday for a diplomatic reception.
On Friday, Harry heads to Arlington National Cemetery. A helicopter pilot who has served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan, the prince will lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and in Section 60, the burial ground for military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The prince also will visit wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he will tour the facility’s prosthetics center.
Harry’s tour of the States also includes stops in Colorado to visit the British Armed Forces team, which is competing for the first time in the Warrior Games, a tournament for injured service members.
Harry then will head back to the East Coast to survey residential areas still devastated from last fall’s Superstorm Sandy. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will accompany the prince for part of the tour.
The prince’s current visit to the States will be an official visit on behalf of England, unlike the last time he visited the United States in August 2012 following the Summer Olympics. He spent several days in Las Vegas, where he was famously photographed nude by friends he met at the time. Harry later said he showed poor judgment, and that “I let my family down, I let other people down” with the incident.
Harry’s final stop during his current tour will be in Greenwich, Conn., to play in a polo match. The proceeds will benefit the prince’s Sentebale charity that helps African children in need.