Why Obama Told Prince Harry He Felt Both Serenity And Concern On Inauguration Day

“A lot of the things that still motivate me, and move me, continue to this day.”

In an interview affectionately dubbed "When Harry Met Barry," Prince Harry talked with former President Barack Obama as part of his gig as guest editor for BBC Radio 4's program Today. As for the interviewee, this conversation marked Obama's first interview since leaving office this January.

The former commander-in-chief said he felt "serenity" on Inauguration Day this year — the day his successor, President Donald Trump, took over. 

"The first thing that went through my mind was, sitting across from Michelle, how thankful I was that she had been my partner through that whole process," he said.

Those feelings, however, were mixed with thoughts of "all the work that was still undone," he said, as well as "concerns about how the country moved forward."

Even though Obama mentioned his concerns, neither he nor Harry mentioned Trump by name in the interview, as The New York Times noted. Indeed, Obama has only spoken diplomatically about the 45th President since Election Day.

"It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences," he told the press on November 9, a day after the election — adding that "we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country."

In a press conference five days later, per TIME, Obama had this to say about Trump: "I think he's going to try as best he can to make sure that he delivers not only to the people who voted for him, but for the people at large, and the good thing is that there are going to be elections coming up, so there's a built-in incentive for him to try to do that."

Despite any disappointment about the results of the 2016 election, Obama has always remained optimistic about the United States' future. "I think that nothing is determined, but that the number of people who have a strong belief in a fair, just, equal, inclusive America is the majority and is growing," he told Rolling Stone in an interview conducted that same day. "History doesn't travel in a straight line. And it zigs and it zags and sometimes you take two steps forward and then you take a step back."

Obama told Prince Harry he has more time to spend with his family and more leeway to dictate his own schedule these days but his priorities remain similar to those from his days in the Oval Office.

"I still care about making sure that the United States and the world is a place where kids get a decent education," he said. "Where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage. That we're conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place. Like we did … "A lot of the things that still motivate me, and move me, continue to this day."

The interview is the latest joint effort between Prince Harry and the Obamas. After Harry started the Invictus Games — an Olympics-style sporting event for wounded veterans — he and the Obamas traded good-natured trash talk, disparaging each other's teams. Earlier this year, Prince Harry and Michelle Obama visited teens (and quite possibly the next generation of world leaders) at a Chicago high school. And to tease this interview, Kensington Palace posted a Twitter video of Barack and Harry joking around with one another.

Speaking of jokes, Harry ended his interview with a lightning round of "serious questions," asking the former president, for example, if he prefers Aretha Franklin or Tina Turner — he chose Franklin — LeBron James or Michael Jordan — he chose Jordan, being a Chicago guy.

Now we know that he likes Titanic over The Bodyguard and Rachel from Friends over Monica. He also chose Suits over The Good Wife. ("Great," said Harry, the fiancé of a former Suits star. "Great answer.")

Obama also picked the White House over Buckingham Palace — reasoning that "Buckingham Palace looks like it would take a really long time to mow" — and White House's cinema over its bowling alley. ("We called it a movie theater," he told Harry, "but that's fine.")

We'll never know if POTUS No. 44 opts for boxers or briefs, though. "Sorry," Obama said. "We don't answer those questions."

Cover image via Center for American Progress Action Fund I Wikimedia Commons

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