Donald Trump opens Easter Egg Roll with talk of border wall

Donald Trump has launched this year’s staging of one of the oldest White House traditions - the annual Easter Egg Roll.

The US president blew a whistle and sent spoon-wielding children into a frenzy as they used the wooden utensils to coax hard-boiled eggs to the finish line.

"This is 141 years that we’ve been doing this," Mr Trump said, addressing the crowd from the Truman Balcony, where he was joined by first lady Melania Trump before they went downstairs to mingle with guests on the South Lawn.

First lady Melania Trump watches children do hopscotch on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Credit: AP

"I don’t remember the first one," he joked of the tradition which began in 1878 under President Rutherford B Hayes.

After blowing the whistle to begin one of many egg rolls taking place throughout the day, he joined children seated at a picnic table, where they coloured cards for US troops.

He appeared to answer a question from one youngster about the wall the president wants to build along the Mexico border.

Donald Trump meets youngsters on the South Lawn of the White House Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP

"Oh, it’s happening. It’s being built now," Mr Trump said at the table. "There’s a young guy just said, 'Keep building that wall'. Do you believe this? He’s going to be a conservative some day."

The president also talked about the economy and the military, telling the crowd on a sunny morning that "our country is doing fantastically" and that he is rebuilding the armed forces "to a level we have never seen before".

More than 30,000 adults and children were expected to stream through the gates all day for a chance to participate in the main event, rolling eggs across the lawn.

Melania Trump reads The Wonderful Things You Will Do by Emily Winfield Martin. Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

The first lady added two new activities this year - musical eggs, played just like musical chairs, and hopscotch - to a roster that included a musical stage, an egg hunt, egg and cookie decorating, and multiple photo opportunities, including at a mini presidential lectern.