Britain's Prince Charles, Camilla wow onlookers in US visit

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, toured monuments and wowed Washington tourists on Wednesday on the first full day of their four-day US goodwill tour.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were swarmed by delighted tourists and school groups when they arrived to visit the white-columned Lincoln Memorial and worked the crowd with handshakes and hellos.

The 66-year-old heir to the British throne and the duchess spent about 10 minutes inside the memorial as a guide explained aspects of Lincoln's statue and how schoolchildren memorise the addresses carved on the walls.

After photos at the top of the steps overlooking the National Mall, the couple descended the stairs to cheers from onlookers.

Charles and Camilla, who was wearing a Bruce Oldfield embroidered grey-and-black dress and coat against a 4 deg C chill and stiff breeze, then visited the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.

Accompanied by civil rights figures the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr and US Representative John Lewis, the party paused briefly at one engraved quote from King that said: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. 1963"

Harry Johnson, the president and chief executive officer of the foundation that built the memorial, said he had given the couple a stone from the memorial's granite.

Prince Charles greeted onlookers and shook hands with students and teachers from North Stafford High School in Stafford, Virginia.

The students squealed and laughed when he stopped.

"We didn't know this was going to happen," said Delaney Peterson, 16.

The visit by the Prince and Duchess is aimed at boosting Britain's partnership with the United States in such areas as climate change and encouraging corporate social responsibility.

The couple were scheduled to tour more monuments and historic sites on Wednesday and Thursday, with a trip set for Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of the first US president, George Washington.

The royal couple will visit the White House on Thursday, the first such visit by Charles since May 2011.

Charles receives a leadership award on Thursday from the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.

The couple travel on Friday to Louisville, Kentucky, where the Prince attends a health symposium, and the Duchess will visit a food education project.