Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton Sunday began their first official visit to New York, as well-wishers shivered in the cold to greet them at John F. Kennedy International Airport. While Prince William is set to meet with the president at the White House, Kate is to appear at a child-development center, USA Today reported. The duo hope to amp up their role in representing their country overseas, Agence France-Presse reported. It’s the first time either of them have visited New York.

"It's important to us to ensure they have a good time. We hope this will be a very satisfactory happy fun visit,” Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the United States, told People magazine. "It's the latest embodiment of the lasting and very close relationship with the royal family." 

The prince and his pregnant wife, both 32, were met by nearly 450 well-wishers who shivered in the cold to get a glimpse of the royal couple, People magazine wrote. But it was apparently hard for people to get a look. The New York Police Department reportedly blocked the view, an onlooker told the Associated Press. "It was really disappointing. I saw nothing thanks to the NYPD. And we're kind of numb from the cold,” Wendy Hahn told the AP. "I didn't see anything.” 

The Empire State Building even embraced William and Kate by lighting up red, white and blue in their honor.

"The level of excitement in New York has been absolutely phenomenal,” British Consul General Danny Lopez said at a press conference, according to People magazine. "It's been incredible to witness the level of excitement from people wanting to be part of it, wanting to attend, wanting to help us and support us.”

The royal couple reportedly will stay at Carlyle Hotel right by Central Park, a favorite of the late Princess Diana, William's mother. Security at the hotel has reportedly been amped up. "They are being extra careful," a worker told People magazine. "Even during the Met Gala, security isn't this tight."

The royal couple is planning a three-day visit, with William traveling to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama Monday, the daily White House schedule indicated. "This visit underscores the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom," the White House said. Prince William reportedly hopes to get the president’s support for his wildlife campaign.

Prince William Kate Middleton The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton at the Christchurch botanical gardens on April 14, 2014. The royal couple is spending three days in New York City begining Dec. 7. Photo: Reuters

"It's a significant trip which is trying to establish William further in a diplomatic, statesmanlike role," Robert Jobson, author of "The New Royal Family," told the AFP.

But all eyes are expected to be on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they sit courtside at the NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Considering Beyoncé and Jay Z hold a share in the Nets, there’s a chance the king and queen of Hip Hop could meet the prince and duchess.

William next is expected to travel to China and Japan, but Kate, who is expected to give birth in April, will not accompany him on his late-February, early March trip.

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