Britain's Prince Charles meets Obama on U.S. goodwill tour

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday as part of a goodwill tour of the United States.

Obama and the Prince of Wales chatted amiably in front of reporters and television cameras while the Duchess of Cornwall sat smiling on a couch nearby.

"I think it?s fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family," Obama told the prince.

"That?s awfully nice to know," Charles responded.

The two men did not make remarks or take questions during the short period the press was in the room. It was the first White House visit by Charles since May 2011.

The four-day visit by the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall aims to boost British-American partnership in such areas as climate change and corporate social responsibility.

The White House visit came after Charles and Camilla toured the Armed Forces Retirement Home, a veterans facility. The sprawling campus has about 450 residents and is also the site of President Abraham Lincoln's summer cottage.

The couple chatted with residents, stopped at a display of military uniforms and greeted veterans working out in the gym. At a bowling alley, Charles sent a ball down the lane, knocking over two pins to cheers from residents and staff.

Students carrying small U.S. and British flags lined the hallways of the Carlos Rosario Public Charter School, which teaches adult immigrants, to greet the 66-year-old heir to the British throne on his next stop.

"Sorry I've come to ruin your session," the prince told teacher Karina Samuels when he walked into her classroom, which had mostly Spanish-speaking and Ethiopian students learning English.

He visited with groups of students. Most had little English, and teachers had to translate many exchanges with the prince.

Charles, who visited the school without Camilla, made the students laugh several times by asking whether their teacher is good.

Charles also attended a State Department reception for about 70 Marshall Scholars, part of a programme set up by Britain in gratitude for the U.S. Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War Two.

Charles and Camilla will travel on Friday to Louisville, Kentucky.

(Some of the material for this story was taken from pool reports; Reporting by Ian Simpson and Jeff Mason; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Diane Craft)