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Prince William meets with President Obama; Duchess Kate visits Harlem child center

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kicked off their whirlwind American tour with separate schedules Monday in separate cities.

The couple arrived late Sunday afternoon in New York, but Prince William made his way to Washington early Monday for a White House meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office. The two spoke about illegal wildlife trafficking, but began their conversation on a lighter note, with the prince joking about the "chaos" surrounding last year's birth of his son, Prince George. William and Obama previously met in 2011 when the president visited Buckingham Palace.

The prince then headed to a World Bank conference about fighting illegal trade in wildlife.

Photo:+President+Obama+meets+with+Prince+William+in+the+Oval+Office+http://t.co/aUw4yRjpwH+#RoyalVisitUSA+pic.twitter.com/qYHq3o6xaQ

—+NBC+Nightly+News+(@NBCNightlyNews)+December+8,+2014+

Duchess Kate, meanwhile, stayed behind in New York to tour a child development center in Harlem where youngsters were probably more familiar with Disney princesses than British royalty.

How+cute+is+her+Royal+Highness+and+these+kids+at+the+Northside+Center?+#RoyalVisitUSA+(via+@UKinNewYork)+pic.twitter.com/01v6d6okKo

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+December+8,+2014+


What+do+you+think+this+little+girl+is+telling+Kate?+#RoyalVisitUSA+(via+@GettyImages)+pic.twitter.com/sOdPYSiPkX

—+TODAY+(@TODAYshow)+December+8,+2014+


The couple, traveling without toddler George, arrived Sunday on a commercial flight where passengers were amazed to find them “mingling with everyone else.” Americans gave the pair a warm reception for their first visit to the Big Apple, and the royal couple gave frenzied fans exactly what they wanted: A peek at the growing baby bump.

Despite their separate starts, the couple will reunite Monday evening at a New York reception with Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton for wildlife conservation, a cause Prince William has long championed. They also will take in an NBA game in Brooklyn.

"I know that the president is certainly envious of the prince's opportunity to take in a game between the [Brooklyn] Nets and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers," Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Monday.

The NBA is teaming up with Prince William's Royal Foundation to aid two of its causes: United For Wildlife, which advocates for natural conservation, and the Coach Core program, which helps cultivate the next generation of coaches. Current NBA players Carmelo Anthony and Serge Ibaka, as well as former all-stars Dikembe Mutombo and Al Horford, are among the athletes who have signed on to help the Royal Foundation.

The royal couple are staying at the luxurious Carlyle Hotel, the iconic hotel favored by William’s late mother, Princess Diana. On Sunday, they attended a private reception and dinner but first greeted fans waiting for a glimpse at the pregnant Duchess, who is expecting her second child in April. 

See William and Kate's full schedule here.  

"They are the biggest stars of the world," said Piers Morgan, editor-at-large of the MailOnline.com, explaining the couple's massive appeal.

Their star power may even outshine some of American's biggest celebrity couples, including one the royal pair may run into at Monday night's Brooklyn Nets basketball game.

"Jay Z and Beyonce will think they’re the biggest couple in New York and they’re going to get blown away," Morgan predicted. 

But if the British royals do end up meeting the monarchs of the music industry, William and Kate will handle everything with their usual aplomb.

"They're very normal, nice, easy-going people," Morgan said.

Follow TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.