By Joseph Barrios
Arizona Daily Wildcat
A member of the British royal family officially visited Arizona for the first time yesterday.
And he picked the University of Arizona as the first place he wanted to go.
Prince Michael of Kent, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and 22nd in line for the crown, visited the UA yesterday because of the university's international reputation for technology, said Merrick Baker-Bates, Consul-General of the British Consulate General Office in Los Angeles.
"Tucson is a center of high technological advancement in certain areas. We're definitely interested in what's happening around here," Baker-Bates said.
Baker-Bates said Prince Michael wanted to visit the UA because of the heavy emphasis on medical research. The Arizona Daily Wildcat was not allowed to interview the prince.
"Prince Michael is a professional investor and wants to promote medical technology in England. He is looking at the UA's research efforts as models for England," Baker-Bates said.
The Consulate General's trade and investment office reports that England is Arizona's second largest investor, behind only Mexico.
The prince was also here to help promote the United Kingdom/Arizona Festival Ä a two-month festival taking place in Tucson and Phoenix to celebrate the United Kingdom and medieval times, said Jan Rogers, an employee of the UA Cultural Affairs office.
The prince and his entourage were welcomed about 10 a.m. by the UA Marching band and Mariachis. He then toured the Arizona Health Sciences Center's polymer paving program, a process which is used to coat arteries with a layer of plastic. The plastic coating supports arteries weakened after they have been unclogged.
The prince also visited the artificial heart program at Health Sciences, Steward Observatory and the Multiple Mirror Lab. The prince also gave a brief speech along with UA President Manuel T. Pacheco and ASUA president T.J. Trujillo.
Some UA students tried to make the prince feel more at home by performing medieval dances in period costumes and performing fencing demonstrations. The College of St. Felix, a group of UA students who practice medieval activities, was one of the groups sponsoring yesterday's events.
Kristi Sawyer, a Soil and Water Science junior and member of St. Felix, said the group had little to do with hosting the prince but wanted to put on a show for the rest of the campus.
"We're just the lackeys. We really don't know what's going on," Sawyer said.
Students were only able to see the prince when he addressed the crowd at the west end of Old Main. After the speech, many students remained to watch the performers.
"You don't see people dressed like this everyday," said Jeff Robens, a 5th-year psychology senior.
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