24 FEBRUARY 2003

Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe and his wife Mathilde enjoyed spending time in the US state of California this weekend, as part of the couple's first official visit away from home since announcing the princess is expecting their second child.

After arriving in Los Angeles on Thursday, the heir to the throne went about promoting international trade with a speech at the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, while Mathilde pursued her interest in social causes.

In addition to touring a local rehabilitation centre, the 29-year-old mother of Princess Elisabeth took time to check out a youth arts programme, where she shared smiles with dozens of children who were anxious to show off their dance and music skills. The expectant mum didn't hesitate to get her hands dirty, sculpting clay figures alongside the school-age aspiring artists.

Later, a trip north to San Francisco brought more memorable moments for the royal pair. After meeting the city's mayor, the couple linked arms as they took a stroll near the scenic Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo: ©
Prince Philippe and his wife Mathilde, who is expecting in September, take in the sights of San FranciscoPhoto: © AFP Click on photos for gallery
Photo: ©
Princess Mathilde gets her hands dirty as she visits a Los Angeles children's arts centrePhoto: © AFP
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