The second day of Prince Charles and Camilla’s visit to Singapore saw the royal couple officially welcomed to the country, with a wreath-laying and meeting with the President.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall met the country’s first female president Halimah Yacob, at the official home of the Head of State, Istana, as well as the Prime Minister.
Prince Charles inspected a guard of honour there.
The Royals paid their respects to Singapore’s war dead following this, in a poignant ceremony at the Cenotaph memorial, built to honour the 124 locals who perished serving in WWI. The Prince laid a wreath with The Prince of Wales’ feathers, after observing a minute’s silence with other dignitaries, military veterans and serving personnel.
A handwritten note on the wreath read: “In grateful remembrance of your service and sacrifice – Charles.”
In the afternoon, the couple split up for separate engagements. The Duchess attended a Commonwealth Literacy event at Temasek Junior College, while the Prince met with faith leaders at The Harmony Centre.
Camilla met with participants of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, including Wan Gee, who was runner-up last year. The competition has been managed by The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883 and is the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition.
Wan Gee’s essay had been on
Meanwhile, the future King, who last visited Singapore in 1979, showed his continued support for inter-faith dialogue. A study by the Pew Research Centre in 2014 considered Singapore to be the most religiously diverse country in the world.
Changing into a pale suit, Charles then took a trip to MacRitchie Reservoir, a nature park also known as Singapore’s Green Lung. Here, he had a close encounter with a snake during a tree-top walk in the tropical rainforest.
“That’s a non-poisonous one?” the Prince asked, seeing the bronzeback snake. The reptile, which was around half a metre long, had wound itself around the hand of Yi Fei Chung, a conservation manager with the National Parks Board, who reassured Charles the common animal was not venomous.
A conservationist was on hand to ward off any potential monkey raiders as His Royal Highness ventured along the walkway, Clarence House pointed out.
The evening saw the President host a state banquet in honour of the royal guests, with Charles addressing the gathering.
“It gives my wife and I the greatest possible pleasure to be in Singapore and to be able to enjoy your splendid hospitality this evening,” The Prince of Wales said.
Singapore is part of the Commonwealth.
“At the core of our relationship, Madam President, is our shared belief that, by working together, one plus one can equal so much more than two.
“It was so important to my wife and I that, as we look forward to the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London next year, we should start this Commonwealth tour in Singapore where the very first CHOGM was held 46 years ago.
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) October 31, 2017
“Singapore is an essential and deeply valued member of our Commonwealth family, the special importance of which has been a cornerstone in my life as, of course, it has been for Her Majesty The Queen.”
“We have prospered together. We have suffered together too,” the Prince said, referencing the fighting of 1942, when Japanese troops moved down the Malay Peninsula. Singapore was under British rule at that point, and thousands of soldiers from Britain, Australia and New Zealand were killed in the fighting; in February, the British surrendered Singapore and hostilities ceased. They gained independence in 1965.
He added: “Today, ours is a close partnership of equals, underpinned by our shared history.”
Singapore’s President noted that the 40,000-strong British community is the largest in Southeast Asia: “They [the Brits] have become an integral part of the Singapore story with their many contributions. Our two countries enjoy a natural affinity due to our common history.”