A notably serious Prince Harry viewed scenes utter devastation today in two New Jersey seaside towns that suffered the brunt of Superstorm Sandy.

Aides said the third in line to throne had specifically asked to go to the Jersey shore and meet people trying to put their lives and houses back together after meeting a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan who had lost his home in the area in the devastating storm last October.

With New Jersey’s colourful Governor Chris Christie as his tour guide, the third in line to the throne flew by helicopter from New York to the towns of Mantoloking and Seaside Heights, where collapsed houses and buildings litter the shore.

The tour was in marked contrast to some of the more light-hearted moments of the prince’s week long tour of the US, which have so far seen him play American football and even take part in a human pyramid with a group of cheerleaders.

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Settling in: Harry tries his hand at a stall in Mantoloking as he is joined by Chris Christie and his family

Settling in: Prince Harry tries his hand at a game stall along the Jersey shore on Tuesday as he is joined by Chris Christie and his family



Getting involved: Prince Harry was joined by the governor's children and wife Mary during the tour

Getting involved: Prince Harry was joined by the governor’s children and wife Mary during the tour and won a large elephant for a child

Britain's Prince Harry eyes stuffed toys at an arcade as he tours the boardwalk and pier at Seaside Heights
Prince Harry is greeted by a young admirer at Mantoloking

Day out: Prince Harry eyes stuffed toys at an arcade at Seaside Heights and greeted a young admirer at  Mantoloking who wore a crown for the occasion, right

Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive storm of the 2012 season as well as the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, causing a swathe of death and destruction across seven countries.

Tens of thousands of people are still homeless almost eight months after it hit the United States, razing much of the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine with winds of up to 115 mph.

Asked to sum up his visit, Harry focused on the positive.

‘Everyone is getting on with it,’ he said. ‘The Governor here has been absolutely fantastic. It’s nice to see everyone out working together.’

New Jersey and New York were particularly badly affected when the co-called ‘superstorm’ hit land on October 29, flooding streets, subways and cutting power across the region.

Families were forced to watch helplessly as their homes and livelihoods were literally ripped from the ground in front of their eyes.

Some 72 people were killed as a direct result of the hurricane and a further 87 deaths attributed indirectly to it, including those who died from hypothermia due to power shortages or carbon monoxide poisoning.

The extent of the damage means that Sandy, which affected 24 US states in all, has also become the second costliest hurricane in American history.

Mantoloking, the area chosen for Harry to visit, saw all 521 of its homes damaged or destroyed and is only just creeping back to life.

The 28-year-old prince walked down a road along the Barnegat Bay side of the town – where many houses were obliterated.

Harry also visited Seaside Heights, where MTV’s reality show Jersey Shore is filmed, touring the boardwalk which is currently under reconstruction.

He viewed cranes working at the end of Casino Broadwalk, close to perhaps the most famous symbol of Superstorm Sandy – the remains of the Jet Star roller coaster that toppled off an amusement pier and into the ocean. Its demolition is due to begin several hours after his visit.

The royal visit was a coup for the larger than life Governor Christie, 50, who became renowned for the fleece he wore while visiting the area post hurricane and yesterday Tweeted a picture of himself giving Harry his own copy.

The governor and his aides hope that publicity surrounding Harry’s visit will highlight reconstruction efforts and the need for more financial aide from Congress to restore the local economy.

New Jersey sustained about $37billion damage from the October 29 storm last year.

Announcing his decision to visit New Jersey, Harry’s Principle Private Secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said: ‘Sandy has gone on record as the most destructive of the 2012 Hurricane Season. It caused more than 71 billion dollars of damage in the United States alone.

‘It killed nearly 300 people in its course, and in the US affected 24 states, from Florida to Maine, hitting New York and New Jersey particularly hard.

‘The Prince will see for himself some of the extraordinary work that has gone on since October 2012 to rebuild communities affected. He will also meet members of the emergency services who reacted so heroically on the night the storm struck.’

Those who had lived in the area came to see him, including seven red-haired cousins from the Bowden family, who holidayed every summer in the house their great aunt built in 1926. Camilla, 17, Emily, 13, Phebe, 12, Liesl, 15, Frances, 7, Alex, 15, and Sam, 15, persuaded the prince to pose for a picture.

‘All red heads together,’ said Camilla. ‘We’re all cousins.’

‘I can see that,’ said Harry.

Camilla added to reporters that she had visited London and studied royal history but came to see Harry on Tuesday for one reason: ’cause he’s my future husband.’

‘We appreciate Harry showing care and support during such a difficult time for our family and community,’ said her aunt, Becky Guenther.

After surveying Mantoloking, Harry headed to Seaside Heights, which was also hit hard by the storm and which was famously home to MTV’s reality TV show, Jersey Shore.

There, he saw a famous image from the storm: a roller coaster that plunged off an amusement pier and into the ocean. Its demolition is scheduled to begin several hours after his visit concludes.

He also walked along the community’s rebuilt boardwalk, which is about two-thirds complete.

On the amusement arcade at Seaside Heights Harry won a blue elephant for 11-year-old Taylor Cirigliano, from Middletown.

‘He asked me if I had won anything,’ she said. ‘I said no, and he said we are going to win you a prize. He won me this elephant, which was nice of him. He was really cute, and had a good personality. He liked all the kids.

‘I think it was nice he came down here, because it puts a smile on people’s faces to know that he supports what everybody is doing.’

The Prince also  spent several minutes talking to Jennifer Maier, the borough administrator of nearby Union Beach where 220 homes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

‘He said, “You are going to have thousands of people coming down here, so you’ve got to get ready”,’ he said. ‘What a sweetheart! He was just very sweet and caring.’

Asked about the impact of Harry’s visit, she said: ‘Oh my God! It’s huge. You could not pick anyone better to bring attention to the Jersey shore and the situation we are in. People think it’s over because it’s six months in, but we’ve got two years rebuild left.’

The second stall the Prince went to was one where the challenge was to pop balloons by throwing darts at them.

Harry encouraged Jade Fonseca, seven, to throw darts which won her a teddy after she popped a red balloon.

The children are pupils at Hugh J Boyd Elementary School, which was largely destroyed by Sandy, forcing them to move to a temporary building 10 miles away.

Head teacher Chris Raichle, 43, said: ‘It was great for the kids to meet the Prince. Our kids needed that. They’ve had a tough year.’

He added: ‘I knew about the visit about a week ago but I kept it pretty quiet because I knew all the requests would come in from the female teachers to see the Prince.’

Elizabeth Abelson, who runs the balloon dart game stall, said: ‘He was great with the kids, he was down to earth, I think he will be a natural uncle.’

Other local residents introduced to the prince included Alan Layman, 74, and his wife Susan, 62, who lost their home and have been living in a rented cottage in a neighbouring town on $1,000 a month federal emergency funds while they wrestle with their insurers and try to get their home rebuilt.

George Nebel, the town’s mayor told the Prince and Governor how they urgently needed to strengthen the sea defences to prevent another catastrophe.

‘We need to protect this town from the next hurricane season,” he told them and the governor agreed.’

Asked by Maria Hunter, who helped with the relief efforts, what he thought of the scenes in Mantoloking, Harry said: ‘It was devasting.’

At Seaside Heights, around 400 of the townspeople and from neighbouring areas had turned out and Harry was greeted by screams and cheers from the largely-female waiting crowd.

Harry shared a love of television show Game of Thrones with Damian Quinn, 18, a student at Hunterdon Central High School, who was invited to meet the royal visitor as a reward for raising 13,000 dollars to help the recovery efforts.

‘Do you watch Game of Thrones?’ he asked him. ‘Yes, I do,’ said Harry.

Harry will now travel to New York City where he will attend an afternoon event promoting British trade.

He’s then due to throw a pitch to promote a community baseball program involving a new partnership with the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The foundation bills itself as the culmination of the charity lives of Prince Harry and his brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Kate.

On Tuesday evening, the prince is the honored guest at a Manhattan fundraiser for the foundation.

Before leaving the country, Prince Harry travels Wednesday to Greenwich, Connecticut, to captain a polo team as part of the Sentebale Polo Cup.

The prince began a week-long visit to the U.S. on May 9 and has since visited Capitol Hill, the White House and Denver, Colorado to attend the Warrior Games.

Wreckage: A home in the borough of Ocean Heights, New Jersey that was seen by Prince Harry

Wreckage: A home in the borough of Ocean Heights, New Jersey that was seen by Prince Harry. The state sustained about $37 billion damage in the storm