All in a day’s work: Charles & Camilla present prizes for higher education before Charles speaks at Plant Health & Biosecurity Conference

Earlier today, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall presented The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education during a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace. Later, Prince Charles headed to Kew to attend the 2020 Plant Health and Biosecurity Conference.

Awarded every two years to various universities and colleges throughout the UK, The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes recognise the pinnacle of ground breaking and cutting-edge work that is being developed and delivered by the organisations. These awards are the highest national honour that can be attained by UK colleges and universities.

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During an extremely rigorous process, entries for the awards are submitted in any field or discipline that shows not only excellence and innovation, but must also provide a distinct impact and deliver a real benefit to the public. The entire procedure for choosing the winners is handled by an independent charity, the Royal Anniversary Trust and all entries are reviewed with complete anonymity and confidentiality.

Since its inception in 1993, 275 Prizes have been bestowed to 82 universities and 49 further education colleges throughout the United Kingdom.

This year 22 universities from the UK were presented with a silver gilt medallion from The Prince of Wales and an inscribed certificate granting the award, signed by Her Majesty The Queen and given by The Duchess of Cornwall.

Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall awarding The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for 2018-2020 at Buckingham Palace (Clarence House)

Charles and Camilla awarding The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for 2018-2020 at Buckingham Palace (Clarence House)

A wide variety of topics garnered this year’s prizes, which ranged from energy innovation, ways to remove and identify the environmental threat from micro-plastics to the creation of a multilingual poetry competition for children that promotes cultural diversity.

Before the ceremony, the heir to the throne and his wife were greeted by the Chairman of the Royal Anniversary Trust, Sir Damon Buffini, as well as a number of Council Members and Trustees. Charles and Camilla also spent time chatting with this year’s Prize winners.

Sir Buffini expressed: “It has been fantastic to celebrate the 13th round of prize-winners at the Guildhall and at Buckingham Palace alongside The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. The Royal Anniversary Trust showcased the exceptional, innovative and impactful work of our colleges and universities throughout the UK. We look forward to seeing how the work develops and progresses over the coming years.”

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After the reception, Prince Charles headed over to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to attend a conference on plant health and biosecurity.

With a global reputation as one of the world’s leading scientific institutions with extensive resources in the subject of plant and fungal knowledge, the Royal Botanic Gardens is known as the virtual database when it comes to providing a plethora of information on plants and fungi. Not only known for its vast array of plant data, the RBG Kew also boasts 132 hectares of gloriously landscaped gardens which attract around 2 million visitors to the Kew annually, making it one of the area’s major tourist attractions.

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Kew Palace – a Georgian pile designed for to allow for some country respite – and the Great Pagoda are situated at Kew.

Before attending the reception, The Prince of Wales gave the final address of the 2020 Plant Health and Biosecurity Conference. During his speech, Prince Charles expressed his distress at the “appalling tragedy” that has been thrust upon Britain’s trees, an immense number have been lost due to new species of pests and disease. Even the country’s native oaks are now an at risk group.

The heir to the throne described the depths of his “personal anguish” in response to the “new and increasing” threats of pests and disease and said that he feels the threat is an “appalling tragedy for everyone who loves trees and the countryside”.

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Charles heaped praise upon the scientists and botanists for all of their outstanding work in the fight against the truly alarming situation that is currently confronting Britain. He urged the scientific community to be “more cautious, more vigilant, and more demanding, very demanding, in tackling this major environmental risk”.

A keen gardener, the Prince is patron of Kew Gardens; the plight of the nation’s trees has, therefore, been a concern of Charles for a number of years now. Back in 2018, while speaking with Adam Frost for BBC Gardeners’ World, the Prince shared his feelings about the subject by saying “The trouble is, the canary in the mine has tweeted for a long time about the risk to our trees, and nobody has paid attention. We have to take this really seriously.”  Hopefully, with events such as this conference, this much needed attention will finally be paid.

Back in February 2018, the Royal hosted the inaugural Plant Health and Biosecurity Conference at Highgrove, to address the growing Xylella plant disease threat and highlight the importance of biosecurity. Just another scheme the Prince has brought about to try to address some of wildlife’s problems.

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