#RoyalVisitAustralia: Prince Charles meets old friends at rum distillery & Camilla launches WOW festival

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall went their separate ways on Friday, for their third day of engagements in Australia. On her final day of the tour, Camilla undertook two engagements in Brisbane, featuring homeless organisations and women’s causes, whilst husband Charles visited Bundaberg and Lady Elliot Island, trying rum and talking conservation.

At King George Square in Brisbane, the Duchess viewed the One Million Stars installation; it inspired by artist Maryann Talia Pau. Thousands of people from across the world have woven the one million stars featured in the public artwork. Maryann created the first ‘stars’ following a tragedy in her local community, determined to counter violence with peace.

Since 2012, thousands of people have come together to weave stars and meet the target of creating one million stars to realise the artwork as part of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, which began on Wednesday.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said the One Million Stars installation would be a must see exhibit during the Commonwealth Games. “Many different groups including more than 200 Queensland schools, councils, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and country women’s associations came together to weave these stars,” said Minister Farmer.


The Duchess of Cornwall also visited several charities aimed at helping the homeless, including food rescuer OzHarvest and Micah Projects. OzHarvest is Australia’s leading food rescue organisation, collecting excess food from commercial outlets and delivering it directly to more than 1000 charities supporting people in need across the country. The charity opened in the UK in February 2017 as UKHarvest with the Duchess as patron.

Micah Projects is a charity working to break down barriers that exclude people from housing, healthcare, employment, meaningful connections, and to give people a voice. It provides a range of support and advocacy services to individuals and families according to their needs and capacity.

At Orange Sky Australia, the future Queen even offered to be its first volunteer if it starts operating in the UK. The charity is the world’s first free mobile laundry service for homeless people.

“We had really genuine conversations with her when she visited us and that’s what Orange Sky Laundry is all about, having genuine conversations with our friends on the street,” the organisation’s chief financial officer Emma Young said.

At her next engagement, the Duchess spoke about domestic violence during a lunch at the Women of the World (WOW) Festival.

Greeting the Duchess were former Governor-General Quentin Bryce, WOW founder Jude Kelly and Australian executive producer Cathy Hunt.

Camilla shared a story about a woman being shot in a domestic violence situation, which she said was just one of many stories; the Royal also spoke about the importance of people speaking about domestic violence, something she has been campaigning for for a number of years.

“She’s committed to the idea of gender equality, she’s committed to the idea of surfacing issues that are often silenced around domestic violence, around rape, around all the things that are holding us back,” Ms Kelly said.

Aboriginal rights activist Jackie Huggins spoke with Camilla about domestic violence and closing the gap for indigenous people.

The Duchess of Cornwall has worked with WOW since its inception in 2011 and became the Festival’s President in February 2015. In March, the Duchess hosted a reception at Clarence House to mark International Women’s Day 2018 and celebrate WOW with guests, including singer Annie Lennox, entrepreneur Liz Earle and author Kate Mosse.

Prince Charles’s engagements, meanwhile, saw him visit a rum distillery and conservation projects involved in the protection of loggerhead turtles, and the world’s reefs. Later he attended with people, who – like the Prince – are celebrating their 70th birthdays this year.

At Bundaberg Rum Distillery, the Prince was surprised to come face to face with four sisters he last met when he stayed on their family’s dairy farm when he was just 17- years-old.

Charles, who was attending college in Australia at the time, could not hide his surprise as he was greeted by Jane Tozer, Amanda Boxshall, Penny Jenner and Lisa Tozer after last seeing them 52 years ago. The sisters presented Charles with a framed photograph taken of the five of them the last time they were together and then posed with the Royal to recreate the image – holding hands!

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Sharing their memories from when he used to stay with them at Devon Farm, Lilydale, while he was at Timbertop college in Victoria, Jane said: “I remember you used to follow my dad around asking him questions and I remember you stirring the milk.”

Jane – the oldest of the siblings – was 10 when Charles stayed. Amanda was six, Penny was four and Lisa was just three. Jane added: “I remember him being very curious about the farm. I remember him coming tadpoling and swimming – I taught him how to duck dive.

“At that age we didn’t really think of him as Royalty… He said he was rapt that we still had the photo. It was really lovely to see him again.”

Lisa, 54, added: “All I really remember was thinking that he spoke funny. We all had to get changed out of our farm clothes and put on our Sunday best when he came.”

Touring the distillery museum, the heir to the throne was taken through a tasting in Barrel House, and took a slug of one of five options presented to him.

Declaring he could detect ‘fruit cake’ overtones, The Prince of Wales then went a step further and created his own version of Queensland’s favourite tipple, blending four beakers of rum. It reminded Charles of ‘chemistry class’, he joked, before successfully mixing a brew which will be taken home to England.

the prince of wales torus bundaberg rum distillery (clarence house)

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prince charles plays rum maker, mixing his own blend in bundaberg during #royalvisitautralia (clarence house)

At a Bundaberg a community festival, the Royal met a range of organisations heavily involved in disaster management and recovery in the aftermath of Ex Tropical Cyclone Oswald in January 2013.

Delivering a speech to the ‘wonderful’ people of Bundaberg for their strength in the face recent natural disasters, Charles said: “The Australian spirit and character is such that you are unbelievably resilient and somehow you’ve managed, regardless of what happened.

“That is one of the great characteristics I’ve always admired (about Australians) ever since I first came here 52 years ago.”

More than 1,000 people had gathered to hear the Prince as he continued: “It’s taken me, I’m afraid, all these years to come back for another tot and I’m thrilled that this distillery’s proving to be the one that produces some of the most famous and special of all rums around the world,” he added.

Discussing the extreme weather events, Prince Charles delivered a summary of the floods which have struck the town numerous times, most recently in 2013.

“The problem is they are growing in intensity,” he said to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The Prince of Wales then traveled on to Lady Elliot Island, where he questioned why banned farm chemicals continue to pollute the Great Barrier Reef after getting a first-hand look at corals.

At a forum of business leaders, politicians, scientists and not-for-profit groups exploring new ways to protect the reef, he said he had been told that farmers on the Queensland mainland were using chemicals that had been banned 25 years ago, and contaminated run-off was washed on to the reef. He stressed this was also happening in the UK.

In his long experience of campaigning for the environment, Prince Charles said pollution was often caused unwittingly by people who “were simply unaware of the impact at the far end.”

However, Mackay farmer and president of Canegrowers Australia Paul Schembri said he was “rather surprised” at Prince Charles’ outdated and “probably wrong” comments about Queensland farmers using antiquated and banned chemicals being responsible for killing the Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Schembri said huge amounts of government and corporate funding had been remarkably effective in changing farming practices over the past two decades, reducing fertiliser and chemical residues flowing into rivers and onto the Reef, and dramatically cutting soil and sediment runoff from cane farms.

“I’m surprised and disappointed that he still thinks this is all about farm chemicals; such great strides have been made that damage to the Reef and corals is now talked about in terms of climate change and water temperature – I fear he is getting outdated information…”

The royal visitor was welcomed to the scenic island off Bundaberg by wildlife activist Terri Irwin and her children, Bindi, 19, and Robert 14, the family of late ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin. A chuffed Bindi said the future King was an inspiration for his work in conservation and the environment.

“He is amazing. He is a true wildlife warrior,” Bindi said, with a nod to her late father, Steve Irwin.

prince charles views a baby turtle with conservationsts terri and bindi irwin (clarence house)

Prince Charles took a tour of the reef fringing the island through a glass bottom boat, enabling the party to see the wildlife that flourish in the area.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Charles said society was “truly at a crossroads” in its ability to protect the world’s reefs.

“This will need to be a central aspect of the rapidly emerging concept of a sustainable ’blue economy’, through which sustainable economic development is achieved via the wise use of ocean resources.”

“Within the blue economy it would be helpful to think of coral reef ecosystems as natural capital assets, assets that require the kind of prudent and wise management that will yield dividends long into the future.”

The Prince said investment in projects promoting coral reef health and their resilience against global and ocean warming were needed.

But he admitted it was “no simple matter” and would require widespread support including from the private sector, adding that it was crucially important that world transitions to a low-carbon economy “which more closely mirrors nature’s own economy where nothing is wasted”.

“Whatever the case, we must act before it is to late,” he said.

Later that evening, Charles attended a reception hosted by the Queensland Governor and will met guests also turning 70 in 2018. The guest list also included a number of the people the Prince has come across during his 15 previous visits to Australia, including 86-year-old Michael, who taught the young Prince French during his time in Australia.

the prince of wales attended a reception with the governor of queensland, who invited other people turning 70 this year,(clarence house)

The pensioner, pictured in the wheelchair above, came out of hospital especially for the event.

Charles will now continue on to and Vanuata without his wife. Camilla was originally not intended to go to Australia, but came for a short visit on the occasion of the Commonwealth Games.

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