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Prince Charles, Wife Visit New York

By KAREN MATTHEWS
The Associated Press
Monday, January 29, 2007; 6:22 AM

NEW YORK -- Prince Charles chatted with students about investing in stocks, accepted an environmental award from Al Gore and even played a little basketball on his visit to New York City.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived in New York from Philadelphia by private train Sunday and toured the Harlem Children's Zone, which operates the Promise Academy charter school and a range of social services and programs dedicated to the betterment of Harlem.

The royal couple watched a group of 10 middle-school pupils evaluate stocks as part of an after-school program that teaches them about finances.

When Camilla learned that they receive real money if their virtual stock investments are successful, she exclaimed, "That's fantastic."

The children don't lose money if their investments are unsuccessful.

Pupil Tiffany Vargas, 13, asked Charles if his multimillion-dollar line of organic foods, Duchy Originals, was on the stock market.

"No," he told her, "it's still a private company. We haven't got quite to that stage yet."

Afterward, the couple went on a terrace giving them a panoramic view of Harlem, including the office building where former President Clinton has an office and the Hotel Theresa, where Cuban leader Fidel Castro stayed decades ago. They then visited a health clinic where children, sitting at computers, learned about asthma.

Charles and Camilla watched a rehearsal of a scene from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and a basketball practice. Handed the ball, Charles dribbled and shot. His first attempt was an airball, but he made his second, drawing applause.

One student player, Mouhamed Mbaye, 14, said the school was lucky to have a royal visit.

"Others schools the prince didn't (visit)," he said. "He decided to come here."

Arona Pratt, the mother of another player, said: "I think it's great. My son was up all night waiting for this. They looked much nicer in person than they do on TV."

The couple, flanked by security and officials from the British Consulate _ as well as U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson, both longtime Harlem politicians _ visited for about an hour and a half.

On Sunday evening, Charles received an award for his work on behalf of the environment.

Former Vice President Gore presented Charles with the Global Environmental Citizen Award, given by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Gore, who praised the Prince of Wales' knowledge and passion, said he and the prince have had conversations about the global environment for 20 years.

The prince said he was "touched" at being honored, especially by Gore.

"We had great fun talking about all these issues long ago," the prince said. "I've been so fascinated watching his career, and to receive this award from him really has been a particular privilege but also immensely special."

While Charles has won kudos from environmentalists for his calls to action on global warming, British environmentalists have said the prince should have abstained from flying to the United States. In response, Charles' office said it would cancel a skiing trip to Switzerland, a gesture that would reduce his carbon footprint _ the carbon dioxide created by his travels.

Earlier, the royal couple visited Philadelphia's Independence Hall, their first trip to the city where Americans declared their independence from British rule.

The two waved to adoring fans on Sunday morning in Philadelphia as they walked to a private church service.

Afterward, the entourage boarded the private train for New York. The dean of Temple University's School of Education, C. Kent McGuire, traveled with the royal couple and several other Philadelphia-area community leaders.

McGuire said he was impressed that Charles and his wife didn't just go to Center City Philadelphia but actually went out into the neighborhoods.

"He's very taken with designs from cities and neighborhoods 100 years ago and laments that we've moved away from that," McGuire said.

The royal couple last visited New York in November 2005, when they visited the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The train in which they traveled Sunday is owned by Bennett Levin, president of the railroad car restoration firm Juniata Terminal Co. The carriage they used has served several U.S. presidents, Frank Sinatra, British royalty and the body of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy after his assassination.

___

Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Associated Press