Why Is Prince Charles in Washington This Week?

The Prince of Wales came to talk about the environment, but he's acting like a tourist

This article is from the archive of our partner .

What is Prince Charles doing in Washington, D.C. this week? We're not entirely sure. The British Embassy says the three-day visit, which began Tuesday, will "focus largely on environmental sustainability." (A Clarence House spokesman offered the slightly more ambitious agenda of "environmental sustainability, education and cooperation between British and American forces" when contacted by the Washington Post.)

This is admirable, but possibly not worth flying across the Atlantic Ocean, especially if you're just going to turn around and go home in 72 hours. Looking at Charles's itinerary, it seems the visit is less an advocacy mission, and more a sightseeing trip for the decompressing father-of-the-groom.

Touring the Supreme Court  (Tuesday afternoon)

Charles received the V.I.P. treatment when he arrived for a tour of the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the Associated Press, "[Justice Stephen] Breyer greeted Charles at the curb, and the two strode across the court's plaza to its imposing front steps, waving to onlookers." The Prince spent "about an hour" at the court and met with Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor. He also attended a reception for Marshal scholarship winners, which allows American students to do graduate work in Britain.

Spending 35 minutes at an organic farm (Tuesday afternoon)

Charles has called on British farmers to "restore the romance" of agriculture, but he apparently wasn't swept off his feet by his visit to the Common Good City Farm, a small urban farm in Washington's LeDroit Park neighborhood. Clad in "a gray, double-breasted suit," (pictured right) he spent just over a half-hour touring the facility. He didn't address the crowd or speak to reporters, though the AP report does note that he did "chatted up children about composting and the members of a jazz band about their equipment."

Gala at the British Embassy (Tuesday evening)

Charles paid tribute to wounded British and Americans soldiers in an event cosponsored by the British Forces Foundation and United Service Organization.

Lecture at Georgetown (Wednesday morning)

The Price of Wales was the keynote speaker at the "Future of Food" conference held at Georgetown University today. Here's a link to the Prince's 50-minute speech, which is harshly critical of farm subsidies, but will likely draw more attention for the Prince's off-hand joke about the event being "a change from making embarrassing speeches about my eldest son during wedding receptions."

Meeting with President Obama (Wednesday afternoon)

This, admittedly, is quite cool, though we wonder if Obama might still be distracted with thoughts of how he just killed Bin Laden. What will the two talk about?  "I’m sure [Obama] will congratulate him on his son’s marriage," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "Beyond that, I’m sure discuss the very special relationship that the United States and the United Kingdom have." In other words, chit chat.

Dinner at John Kerry's house (Wednesday night)

Not just a dinner--a private dinner.

Presenting honors from the Queen (Thursday morning)

Before flying out, the Prince of Wales has to preside over an "investiture ceremony" and give out gifts from his mother. None of them involve work in the environment. The former director of the Folger Shakespeare Library and former president of WGBH Boston are both getting the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). An "educator" named Martin Lancaster is getting an OBE. After that, he goes home.

Photo from Getty Images

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.