Once the ear-splitting screaming and cheering had died down, students from the Mulberry School For Girls in the heart of London’s East End retook their seats and heard Obama call for more help for the world’s poorest girls to get educated.
Earlier, Obama, her daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 14, and her mother, Marian Robinson, took tea with Prince Harry at Kensington Palace. Harry, 30, who is known to get on well with Obama, was delighted to meet her family, Kensington Palace said.
The Obamas spent around 40 minutes chatting with Harry. It follows on from the warm welcome he received at the White House during his trip to the US two years ago when he was a surprise guest at her Mother’s Day tea for military mothers in the US in 2013.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said: “They discussed their shared interest in support for veterans and their families. Prince Harry was also interested to hear from the first lady about the Let Girls Learn initiative to further adolescent girls’ education around the world, which is the focus of her visit to the United Kingdom.”
Visibly moved by the warm welcome at Mulberry School, Obama told the 11- to 18-year-old pupils that they were “powerful” and “beautiful” and she wanted them to succeed.
Speaking as a black woman from a working-class background, she told the hall that she understands the challenge of being “overlooked” and undervalued.
She said: “With an education from this amazing school you all have everything, everything you need to rise above all of the noise and fulfil every last one of your dreams.”
Despite facing Islamophobia and poverty, 83% of the students from the Tower Hamlets school, including many from ethnic minorities, manage to secure a place at university.
Obama said: “The world needs more girls like you to lead our parliaments, our boardrooms and our universities. She later met prime minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha.