MANTOLOKING, NJ – Gov. Chris Christie was playing tour guide Tuesday for Britain’s Prince Harry on a visit to the storm-damaged coast of New Jersey, the latest stop on the third-in-line to the throne’s week-long circuit of the United States.
The pair was touring Mantoloking and Seaside Heights, two of the towns along the Jersey Shore that sustained devastating losses by last year’s Superstorm Sandy. Mantoloking, on the northern end of a narrow barrier island, saw massive damage to high-end homes and businesses, and in Seaside Heights, a roller coaster from the town’s pier remains partially submerged in the Atlantic Ocean.
Prince Harry and Christie viewed damage to homes and the pier during their tour of the area, but after they leave, workers were set to begin dismantling the roller coaster, which became one of the iconic images of the storm.
“I know one thing that was very important to him coming into the visit, he wanted to meet the first responders,” Seaside Heights Mayor William Akers told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “I think that is something that is near and dear to him. And we were very grateful for that because everyone forgets that while we’re rebuilding.”
The New Jersey governor, who also gave a tour of the devastated shore to President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the storm, became one of the faces of the relief efforts after loudly advocating for faster federal support for his state.
In total, the storm cost New Jersey an estimated $37 billion. After political maneuvering in Washington delayed federal aid to the Garden State, Christie blasted fellow Republicans, saying the move explained “why the American people hate Congress.”
Harry’s tour of the United States has already swung through Washington, where he was greeted by hundreds of screaming women on Capitol Hill the day before visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Medical Center. He traveled next to Colorado to participate in the Warrior Games, a competition for injured servicemen and women.
Harry’s trip has been regarded by some as image-repair – his last trip to the United States ended with photographs of him cavorting naked in a Las Vegas hotel room splashed on newspaper front pages around the world. The incident came just weeks before Harry deployed with the 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps to Afghanistan.
Harry later said he had “probably let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down” with the nude photos.
In March, when Harry’s trip was first announced, Christie predicted the prince wouldn’t be disrobing during his tour of the Jersey Shore.
“I’m thrilled that he’s willing to come,” Christie said during a radio interview. “He wants to come and see the destruction himself, firsthand. He wants to be helpful. And I am going to be spending the entire day with Prince Harry. And believe me, nobody’s going to get naked if I’m spending the entire day with Prince Harry.”
Later in the day, Harry is slated to participate in a set of New York City events: he’ll promote British trade with Prime Minister David Cameron, attend a baseball event for underprivileged youth, and promote one of his charities at a fundraiser.
By Kevin Liptak
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