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He is royalty, but Prince Harry of Great Britain was not only in a part of Manhattan with its own version of cultural and literary nobility on Tuesday.  Harry is also third in line to the throne of an empire whose political and cultural influence has faded over time.  So how does the prince stack up to the likes of Count Basie, Theolonious Monk, Zora Neale Hurston and Tito Puente?  And why do Americans — including Americans from Harlem and East Harlem — adore the British royals so?  A more detailed look at the prince’s visit provides some answers.

Prince Harry’s Harlem visit featured a 50-person international and local media entourage as well as large NYPD and Diplomatic Secret Service details.  Also, the location of his East Harlem appearance on East 101st Street was officially kept secret before Harry’s arrival for security reasons.  Why all that for a young man who has virtually no chance of becoming king of a shrunken empire?

An answer comes from East Harlem resident Gladys Lind.  “I’m proud because he’s coming to the neighborhood where I was born and I was raised,” she told PIX11 News.

As a lifelong resident who’s seen remarkable improvements in her neighborhood, it’s hard to argue with her about how Prince Harry’s presence both showcases positive changes in East Harlem, and how he is being part of that change.

The street where the national standard Little League baseball field Harry visited is located had once been filled with decaying tenements and vacant, trash strewn lots.  In addition to the state-of-the-sport field, the area is dotted with new condos and renovated apartments among its large but tidy public housing stock.

Harry Harlem

“He’s coming over here,” Gladys Lind said, emphasizing that last word.  “I’m so happy.  I’m very proud.  It’s something to talk to my grandkids about.”

Prince Harry chose to visit the Harlem RBI baseball organization because the older, high school members in the 1500 -student group help to coach and advise the younger boys and girls.  Harry, a sportsman, wants to set up a similar organization in Great Britain, focusing on sports other than baseball, of course.

Why he specifically chose Harlem RBI, a 22-year organization that trains young leaders, its development director explained.  “We’ve been at this work a really long time,” Megan Hodges said.  “We think we do it very well, and Prince Harry must agree with us.”

The 28 year-old member of the House of Windsor gave an undisclosed financial donation to Harlem RBI.  But his gift was by no means the first time a prince has given big money to a Harlem group.  Two years ago, to name just one of many major donations regularly made to Uptown organizations, the Harlem Children Zone received a $1 million check from Prince — the Artist Formerly And Currently Known As Prince, to be precise about the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and multi-platinum recording artist.

Jazz Greats

So how does the prince stack up to the likes of Count Basie, Theolonious Monk, Zora Neale Hurston and Tito Puente? And why do Americans — including Americans from Harlem and East Harlem — adore the British royals so?

Also, Harry’s visit was certainly not the first time royalty has visited Harlem.  In fact, the king and queen of Sweden made an official visit to the uptown neighborhood just last week.  A few local print photographers and a European camera crew or two  followed King Carl Gustaf XVI and Queen Silvia, but their press and security entourages paled in size by comparison to those of Prince Harry in Harlem.

An explanation for the attention given to British royals came from East Harlem resident Cleto Bonilla, who spoke with PIX11 News while he waited with his German shepherds King and Lady.

“I was a fan of Prince[ss] Diana,” he said.  The celebrity and tragic death of Prince Harry’s mother has not been forgotten, but Bonilla said there are deeper reasons to adore the British Royal Family.  “Who wouldn’t?” he asked.  “I would love to live [as British royalty], as a matter of fact.”  Then he gave a mock royal salute.

His reaction underscores how the American fascination with British nobility may simply be an intangible, inexplicable attraction.

Then again, Harlem RBI softball player Angie Ordonez, who showed up at the organization’s field for practice after the prince had been gone a few hours, was among many young members of the group who said they didn’t know who Prince Harry is.  Instead, they had just one question on their minds about him.

“How much money did he give to Harlem RBI?” Ordonez asked.  That confidentiality of that information remains as high as the confidence the middle school girl exhibited asking her question.

It was an unofficial start to summer down the shore marked by a royal visitor — and a turning point in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Prince Harry alongside N.J. Gov. Chris Christie stopped by Seaside Heights Tuesday to tour the Sandy-battered boardwalk and the Jet Star coaster that was washed out to sea.

harry

Prince Harry works the crowd on the Seaside Heights boardwalk.

Hours later the iconic coaster was torn down. It will take until Wednesday to take apart the entire coaster.

Harry toured homes in Mantoloking  and then the Seaside Heights boardwalk.

rollercoaster

The rollercoaster washed into the sea by Hurricane Sandy is being torn down.

Despite their tremendous loss, Jersey folks are hoping for a new beginning.

“I think it means that people all let the world saw what we went support us,” said Sara Fedak.

Two Middletown, N.J..  sisters got to play on the Seaside Heights boardwalk with Prince Harry.

“He said OK we’re going to win you a prize and he did win me a prize,” said Taylor Cirigliano.

NEW YORK (PIX11) – As part of his New York City visit, Prince Harry is scheduled to head to East Harlem where he’ll promote a baseball program that has become a cornerstone in the community.

For more than 20 years Harlem RBI has been serving the neighborhood.  The organization started by reclaiming an abandoned garbage filled lot and turning it into 2 baseball diamonds that would become true fields of dreams for disadvantaged kids in East Harlem.

On it’s website the  groups says ” The park became a hub of neighborhood activity connecting children families and volunteers through team sports.”

But it has not always been easy sailing.  A proposed condominium development on the lot threatened the organization back in 2002.,  but eventually a deal was worked out the city gave them a long term license to rebuild and maintain their field of dreams.

The organization now partners with schools and hospitals  and social service organizations to provide a variety of services to kids and their families.  It serves boys and girls from 5 to 22 years old.

Prince Harry who has been helping wounded warriors and holding numerous events during his tour will make a couple of stops in the city. Around lunchtime he  was scheduled to attend something called the Great Event in the financial district where the plan was to meet with U.K. businesses before heading uptown to Harlem.

Seaside Heights, NJ (PIX11) - Last year’s visit to the states, didn’t allow for Prince Harry to leave very graciously after
a naked picture of the prince partying it up in Las Vegas was plastered all over the internet. The hope, however, is this year’s trip will be different and complete with a stop in the Jersey Shore to tour hurricane devastated towns of Mantoloking and Seaside Heights.

Seaside Heights Councilman Anthony Vaz is expected to be among those invited to tour with the Prince and while details were being kept a bit hush-hush, Vaz said the symbolism behind the visit was enough to give the boardwalk community something to look forward to.

“We’re going to take this as a gesture of good faith.  He’s a person, who has a ceremonial title, who comes to us to say I care about your town.  We care about New Jersey. We care about the United States, ” added Vaz.

Despite so many still visibly trying to rebuild their lives and their businesses, it turns out the royal visit is something that is a welcome distraction.
“I think it’s great.  I think it’s wonderful.  We need a little boost. People need a boost around here,” said Seaside Heights resident, Janine Cone.

(CNN) — Prince Harry started off his second day in the United States with a solemn visit to Arlington National Cemetery, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Wearing formal dress uniform, the 28-year-old combat veteran laid a wreath Friday at the Tomb of the Unknowns and walked quietly among headstones in Section 60, the cemetery’s plot largely dedicated to those who have lost their lives in the fight against terrorism.

Harry finished his latest tour of duty in Afghanistan in January. He served for four months as a co-pilot gunner in southern Helmand province, considered a Taliban heartland.

Later Friday, after changing into combat fatigues, he stopped at Walter Reed National Medical Center to visit wounded service members undergoing therapy.

He’s now on a seven-day visit to the United States, one that shows a markedly different Prince Harry from the one who made headlines during his trip in 2009. Photographs of him partying naked in a Las Vegas hotel room donned newspaper front pages around the world. He later said he “let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down” in the scandal.

But the prince had little leisure time Thursday during his first day in Washington. His arrival on Capitol Hill prompted what appeared to be a mass exodus of women from their congressional offices hoping to catch a glimpse of the third-in-line to the British throne.

Harry stopped in the Russell Senate Office Building with Sen. John McCain to tour an exhibit on finding and clearing landmines, though the serious subject was made somewhat lighter by the occasional hoots from the mostly female spectators snapping a picture of the prince. They were kept at bay by security personnel.

Afterwards, McCain said Harry had what he called a “normal” reaction to the women there to greet him.

“I’m sure it’s not the first time that he’s had that experience,” said the Arizona Republican, who added that Harry seemed genuinely interested in the landmine exhibit.

“He wasn’t just asking cosmetic questions,” McCain said. “He was asking in-depth questions.”

Eliminating landmines was also a cause championed by Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana of Wales. One of the most enduring images of the late princess shows Diana walking through a minefield in Angola wearing a protective vest.

That vest bore the logo of the HALO Trust, the same organization sponsoring the exhibit Harry visited Thursday.

He spent roughly 20 minutes viewing the informational posters and assessing the mannequins set up to display specialized suits worn by landmine detectors. He chatted occasionally with McCain and Guy Willoughby of the HALO Trust, appearing to ask a few questions.

After the prince left Capitol Hill, McCain said: “I found him to be a very attractive young man, and I think he’s very serious about this issue. I was very impressed.”

Later in the day Harry stopped at the White House, where first lady Michelle Obama was hosting an event honoring military moms.

At night he attended a reception at the British Embassy. He first participated in a large receiving line, greeting guests that included Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan; former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Georgia; Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; and Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont.

The prince spent several minutes speaking with an Army Colonel Greg Gadson, a double amputee who was injured in Iraq in 2002, according to pool reports. Harry also chatted with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

British Ambassador to the U.S. Peter Westmacott made a few remarks to the guests, with Harry at his side.

A smaller group of 37, including Harry, moved on to dinner. Speaking briefly from notes on a podium stand, Harry paid tribute during the intimate meal to the HALO Trust, noting that 23 workers have died on the job in the past 25 years.

Harry thanked the U.S. for being the largest supporter of landmine humanitarian work, nodding to the “charitable instincts” of Americans. He added the night gave him “personal pleasure,” as his mother was also involved with the trust.

“My mother, who believed passionately for this cause would be so proud of my association with HALO, and in her special way, she adopted it as her own,” he said.

Friday night he flies to Colorado, where he’ll attend events at the Warrior Games this weekend, which are held for injured servicemen and women.

Also on the itinerary, he’ll tour damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and visit New York City, as well.

His last engagement in the United States comes Wednesday, when he’ll play in a charity polo match in Greenwich, Connecticut.

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