The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have begun their annual three day visit to Cornwall and Devon this week.
As restrictions were lifted in England, Camilla and Charles started their annual visit by popping into Exeter Cathedral and went mask-free.
Once inside the cathedral, Charles and Camilla spoke to members of its choir, none of whom were wearing masks as rules now allow.
As The Prince of Wales is patron of the Exeter Cathedral Development Appeal, both he and the Duchess heard about the restoration of the cathedral and were given a tour of the building. The couple saw view a selection of the Cathedral’s rare treasures and met with donors, supporters, volunteers, staff, clergy members.
The couple also met local community groups, including Devon Wildlife Trust, Exeter City Community Trust and the Met Office, which works with the cathedral and Exeter University on climate change research.
They learnt how these groups have supported their community and how they provided for the local people during the global pandemic.
After meeting the groups and touring the historic cathedral, they both walked over to a group of residents.
Tuesday Masding, a senior healthcare assistant with North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, also spoke to the Duchess and said: “We were just discussing the relaxation of rules and how she hasn’t quite got around to shaking hands with people, and I said that’s probably an appropriate reaction.”
The Dean of Exeter, the Very Reverend Jonathan Greener, praised the visit of Charles and Camilla, who also heard about ongoing major renovations to the medieval place of worship.
He said: “It was a wonderful experience on such a lovely day – the first day of freedom – what more could you ask for? The sun’s shining, we don’t have to wear masks, they were both on sunny form – it was marvellous, and they were so interested in what people were telling them.”
Speaking about the royal visit Bishop Robert said: “It was a fantastic visit and special in all sorts of ways, which was reflected by the hundreds of people who came. He [Prince Charles] engaged really well with all sorts of people. He is hugely interested in our cathedral and its significance in terms of architecture and heritage and conservation.
“But he was also interested in the local community groups – it was wonderful seeing him and Camilla talking to people like the cathedral stonemasons and Prince of Wales nursing cadets. He was also concerned to hear how we had fared in Devon during the pandemic and how young people are experiencing things because it has been so challenging.”
The Prince of Wales then went solo and paid a visit to the new Exeter Bus Station.
Charles had the pleasure in meeting long-service bus drivers and spoke to them about their efforts during the pandemic.
Stagecoach’s longest serving bus driver, Mike Prowse, who has worked for the company for almost 60 years, was introduced to Charles and led a tour of a restored vintage bus, which originally used in 1961.
The future King also met some of members involved in the City Council’s Net Zero ambition, which is aiming to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030.
He met staff from the Live & Move Sport England pilot, which is dedicated to tackling health inequalities and supporting active travel. His Royal Highness also met representatives from Co-Cars, which hires out low emission cars and electric bikes across the city a particular interest of Charles’ who is keen on tackling climate change.
Before Charles left, he unveiled a plaque to commemorate the visit.
Council Leader Phil Bialyk said he was thrilled about the visit from Prince Charles. He said: “To be able to demonstrate to Prince Charles some of the things that are happening in Exeter to deliver our Net Zero 2030 aspirations was absolutely fantastic.
“He was also able to see the brand new Exeter Bus Station, which will be open next week, and our state-of-the-art low energy leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point, which will open later in the year.
“We have a great story to tell here in Exeter, and it was fantastic to be able to tell that story to the future King of England. It was an amazing day, and I am so pleased that he was able to find the time to visit us and discover more about what’s happening here in Exeter.”
After The Prince of Wales went solo, The Duchess of Cornwall followed her husband and stopped off at Weaver Green at Heron Valley Orchards.
Camilla was shown the new store and showroom, which is set to open up soon. HRH heard about the process of turning recycled plastic bottles into fabrics which are used to create the Weaver Green products.
Whilst Camilla was paying the organisation a visit, she had the pleasure in sampling some of the Heron Valley juices at the showroom’s bar.
The royal visitor then moved outside to meet company staff and a group of schoolchildren who are engaged in an educational activity with Devon Wildlife Trust.
Before departing, the Duchess unveiled a plaque and plant a tree to commemorate the visit.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall concluded their first day by celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Prince’s Countryside Fund during a reception at the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery.
The reception acted as the launch of The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s ‘Confident Rural Communities’ network. The Confident Rural Communities Network brings together the 300+ rural community organisations who have benefited from the Prince’s Countryside Fund grant programme since its inception in 2010.
The initiative will provide an opportunity to re-engage with past and current beneficiaries including; a dedicated space on the PCF’s website, quarterly newsletters, invitations to events and webinars and opportunity to engage with wider PCF activity such as National Countryside Week.
Speaking at the reception, Charles said: “On my visits to different communities around the country, when allowed to do so, I’m always struck by the resilience, good humour and adaptability of those who live and work in the countryside. It will enable us to pull the threads together, make connections, share experiences and galvanise all your collective efforts to ensure a real future for rural Britain.”
Happy 10+1 anniversary to The Prince’s Countryside Fund! 🎂
Founded by HRH, the charity is the only UK-wide charity that empowers family farms and rural communities to ensure their future. pic.twitter.com/YiLikCcpbw
— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) July 19, 2021
The reception also allowed Charles and Camilla, on behalf of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, to thank grant beneficiaries for all their hard work throughout the pandemic in supporting their communities.
TRH concluded the reception by cutting a cake to mark the ‘ten plus one’ anniversary of the Fund, marking a celebration they were unable to carry out in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.