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The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visit Philadelphia

27th January 2007

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall started their two-day tour of the United States in Philadelphia today.

A crowd of more than 400 people greeted The Prince and The Duchess outside the city's Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776.

The Duchess made her way over the icy ground and told one wellwisher: "You look like you've wrapped up well” and said to another "I'm hopping over the ice!".

After meeting the Mayor of Philadelphia, John Street, and the Governor of Pennsylvania, Edward Rendell, Their Royal Highnesses visited the Liberty Bell Center to view the bell, a powerful symbol of liberty, and meet children taking part in educational projects.

The Prince and The Duchess then attended a reception at the National Constitution Center, hosted by the Mayor and the Governor. The Prince’s great-great-grandfather visited the American East Coast city in 1860 as Prince of Wales before he became King Edward VII.

The Prince, in a speech at the Center, mentioned his royal ancestor.

He said: "I'm enormously proud to be following in my great-great-grandfather's footsteps albeit 147 years later."

Referring to the 1860 visit, The Prince said: "My predecessor's programme included the hugely accomplished academy of music where I will be this evening for the 150th anniversary concert.

"He also visited Girard College where he planted a tree that still stands which I can only assume is a testimony to the remarkable powers of green fingers.

"Going around the world I have usually found that it's The Queen's trees that grow the tallest. You never know how many of them have been removed and replanted."

The Prince added: "King Edward also caused something of a stir when for reasons known only to himself he seemed to think he had met a charming family named Scraple and discovered a delicious native food called biddle."

The Prince words were met with laughter in Philadelphia, where scraple is a local meat dish.

The Prince spoke of the close relationship between the UK and the US.

He said:  "I am so pleased that Britain and America are working closely together to share our most innovative and effective ideas."

Afterwards, Their Royal Highnesses helped paint a mural of Martin Luther King at the Heavenly Hall Church in a district in west Philadelphia, adding a few brush strokes to the large piece of art.

The Prince joked with artist David McShane and said: "I'm sorry I can't be here to finish the work!"

The mural will be one of 2,700 around the city, which grace the sides of homes and apartment blocks. The tradition started in the 1980s as part of an anti-graffiti drive to redirect graffiti artists' work into constructive painting.

The Mural Arts Programme offers free education projects, which target at-risk youths to teach them job skills.

The Duchess met seven-year-old Nariddah Blackson, next to a 50ft mural of the youngster. Nariddah said: "She was nice. She said it was a very nice picture."

The Heavenly Hall gospel choir belted out tunes including Change Gonna Come and The Duchess met a Queen of the Masons, who was dressed in a bright blue outfit with white fur trim and a tiara.

Their Royal Highnesses drove past some of murals as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the steps of which were made famous in the Rocky films when Sylvester Stallone ran up to the top.

The Prince and The Duchess then visited International House, a non-profit organisation which offers accommodation and education to overseas students.

Their Royal Highnesses attended a reception at the International House and met students, trustees and alumni of the Marshall Scholarship programme, of which The Prince is Patron.

Drinking from fine bone china cups and eating a biscuit, The Duchess chatted about her text-messaging skills to 21-year-old Victoria Frings.

Ms Frings said: "She said she's not really caught up on modern technology, but she enjoys texting her children."

Lilia Guzairova, 24, from the Ukraine said: "It was just like our Moms' visit. She was just like a Mom."

In the evening, The Prince and The Duchess attended a white tie concert at Philadelphia's Academy of Music, where they were entertained by rock star Rod Stewart and The Prince presented an award to philanthropist Mrs Lee Annenberg.