Harry was “very pleased” to host Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha, according to royal officials, who said the first lady discussed her “Let Girls Learn” initiative and support for veterans with the prince during the visit at Kensington Palace.
After the royal welcome, Obama visited a school in east London where she promoted her education initiative and later posed for selfies with girls waving American and British flags.
She told the girls — many of whom come from working-class backgrounds — that she understood the struggles they faced and that she wanted them to succeed.
“The world needs more girls like you growing up to lead our parliaments and our board rooms and our courtrooms and our universities,” she said. “We need you.”
Obama’s visit came amid the announcement of a new $200 million U.S.-U.K. joint partnership to support education for adolescent girls in countries affected by conflict such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
The First Lady also spoke about the difficulties some young Muslim women face, saying she knew how “painful” and “frustrating” prejudice can be.
“Maybe you read the news and hear what folks are saying about your religion and you wonder if people will ever see beyond your headscarf to who you really are, instead of being blinded by the fears and misperceptions in their own mind,” she said. “I know how angry and exhausting it can make you feel.”
When asked what her inspiration was for “Let Girls Learn,” she said: “Oh, it’s you. Didn’t you notice how I almost cried partway through my speech? It’s you, it’s your soul, your passion.”
Obama said she and Prince Harry had discussed the important role men and boys play in getting girls to school.
“He said it’s important to have male voices at the table on this issue because often times it’s going to be the brother or the father in the community speaking up that is going to change the way a community responds,” she said.
“Our sons are important. We love men, we all do. They’re good, they’re useful — I have one in my life,” she joked about the president, drawing laughs from the audience.
Later Tuesday, Obama was expected to meet Prime Minister David Cameron.