WASHINGTON - To hear President Obama tell it, the American people like Britain's royal family even more than they do American politicians.
Mr. Obama was overheard expressing that sentiment to Britain's Prince Charles during a photo-op at the start of their afternoon get-together in the Oval Office.
"I think it's fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family," the president told the Prince in a whispered exchange recorded by highly-sensitive microphones.
"That's awfully nice to know," replied the Prince, now on his 20th visit to America, as heir to the British throne.
"It's always nice coming back," he told the president, regarding his visit to the U.S. "Everybody's so friendly."
But when told by President Obama that Americans like the royals "much better" than "their own politicians," Charles smiled but said he doubted it.
He didn't correct the president for likening members of the royal family to American politicians.
Charles went on to talk about his return Wednesday to George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon.
"I went there 45 years ago in 1970," said the 66-year old heir apparent to Queen Elizabeth. "It was fantastic. It is very special there," he said.
As the president and the prince chatted during the brief photo session, Charles' wife Camilla, whose royal title is Duchess of Cornwall, sat quietly on a sofa to their right, with Vice President Biden seated on the couch opposite her.