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Prince George (and his family) say farewell to Obamas

Prince George, third in line to the British throne, was photographed with President Barack Obama at his home in Windsor Castle during the Obamas' visit to the UK.

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    Prince George (r.) says goodnight to his father, Prince William (l.), President of the United States Barack Obama (c.) and First Lady Michelle Obama (behind) at Kensington Palace, London, April 22, 2016.
    Kensington Palace/Pete Souza/White House Photographer/PA Wire/Handout via Reuters
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Barack and Michelle Obama's whirlwind royal socializing on Friday began over a birthday lunch with Queen Elizabeth II and ended at a dinner hosted by three young royals – that featured a drop-in from Prince George, en route to the royal nursery for bedtime.

The day before, Britain's oldest and longest-serving monarch welcomed her third US president to Windsor Castle.

"The queen has been a source of inspiration for me," President Obama said at a news conference alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron. "She is truly one of my favorite people ... an astonishing person."

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Obama capped the day with a trip to Kensington Palace, where he and the first lady were invited for dinner with Prince William, his wife Kate, and his brother Prince Harry. 

The palace later released a series of photos showing everyone chatting in the drawing room of William and Kate's home, including shots of Obama kneeling in front of nearly 3-year-old Prince George, who appeared ready for bed in pajamas and a robe. In some photos, a stuffed toy replica of Obama's dog Bo, an earlier gift to the toddler from the president, rested on an ottoman.

Americans' fascination with the royals dates at least to 1860, as Erik Goldstein of Boston University told The Christian Science Monitor's Jason Thomson earlier this week. That was the year that Queen Victoria's 18-year-old son, Edward VII, visited the US and Canada:

The visit was supposed to be low-key, but 30,000 people waited to greet him [in Detroit]. In New York City, a crowd of 100,000 – the biggest yet seen there – thronged the streets to see this British prince. 

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"The royal family has played an important role in keeping the British-American relationship a special relationship," says Goldstein. "It's one of the symbolic bonds that has been useful in representing the complex historical links between the two countries."

So it seems as though the affinity felt by so many Americans for the British royal family is set to endure – so long as the monarchy itself survives, that is.

At the press conference, Obama said the eventual outcome of the June 23 "Brexit" referendum would not change the "special relationship" between the US and the UK.

"We are so bound together that nothing's going to impact the emotional and cultural affinities between our two countries," he said. "So I don't come here, suggesting in any way, that that is impacted by a decision the people of the United Kingdom may make."

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