"Harry-mania" hits Washington as the Prince makes a surprise appearance at the White House

There was an audible gasp as Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at the White House on the first day of his week long tour to the US. His visit had been a closely-guarded secret and around 170 guests were visibly shocked as the handsome royal walked into the room. “Well, surprise,” beamed Michelle Obama.

After arriving in the State Dining Room of the White House, Harry set about helping children and grandchildren of military personnel make cards and gifts for Mother”s Day, which falls on Sunday in the States.

The charming Prince joked around with the children, pulling faces and posing for pictures on their mobile phones, and clearly won over Michelle”s own mother Marian Robinson and Vice President Joe Biden“s wife Jill.

“It is an honour to welcome Prince Harry to the White House today,” the First Lady said. “As many of you may know, Prince Harry is a captain in the Army Air Corps in the British armed forces.” The reference to his military role received a particularly loud cheer from the guests.

“We are absolutely thrilled he could be with us today. He just arrived in DC. He only has a limited time here. But when he heard about this tea and all of you, he wanted to be here to personally thank you for all your service.”

Harry”s status as Britain”s most eligible bachelor was never more apparent than during the first stop on his tour. Before his visit to the White House, he met with Senator John McCain at Capitol Hill, where he was welcomed by a noisy crowd of 500 girls outside the US Senate, and a host of smiling female staffers once he got inside.

“If all the women on Capitol Hill were dust bunnies, #princeharry would be a Dyson Vacuum,” staffer Chris Mickey tweeted. “Every woman is gone. Every. Single. One.”

They hung over balconies, gathered in groups and even hid round corners to catch a glimpse of the Prince as he took a tour of an exhibition by anti-landmine charity HALO with the former presidential candidate.

Senator McCain said of the meeting: “He was kind of embarrassed (by the screaming), I think a normal reaction.

“I”m sure its not the first time that he has had that experience, but in all the years I”ve been coming here, I”ve never seen such an unbalanced gender group.”

Intern Happy Carlock, 20, from Texas said, “You could hear hearts breaking all over the room when he left. He is so cute!”

Harry”s visit to the HALO exhibition was all the more poignant given that it was a favourite cause of his late mother, Princess Diana. And as a soldier who has served in Afghanistan, he understands better than most the devastation they can cause.

Guy Willoughby, director of the HALO trust, said, “Princess Diana came to see or work in Angola in 1997, and there were more trips planned at the time she died.

“She did a great job in raising awareness, and I”m sure the Prince is going to do exactly the same.”