Despite last week’s recordbreaking temperatures, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall kept their cool as they made their annual visit to Devon and Cornwall. Indeed, Camilla showed a stylish way to brave the heatwave, sheltering under a chic parasol – and enjoying an ice cream – as the couple strolled around the harbours of Mousehole and Newlyn. Crowds of well-wishers gathered in the 28C temperature to greet their royal guests, with the future Queen Consort telling one: “This is very cool. It’s stifling in London. “I’m using my parasol – I think I’m going to take off like Mary Poppins,” she added.
The visit marked 70 years since Prince Charles became Duke of Cornwall and he and Camilla were welcomed by locals and tourists lining the streets of Mousehole while children waved Union and Ukrainian flags on the beach below.
Among the people the couple met were a family affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, who were on holiday with the help of Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, which has enabled more than 500 survivors, bereaved families and firefighters touched by the 2017 tragedy to enjoy a break in Cornwall. The group’s founder Esme Page said: “At the heart of Cornwall is hospitality. This was a very special day and it’s lovely the work is being recognised.” The royal visitors were serenaded by 34-year-old Ukrainian Hanna Zoschuk, a professional classical singer who made Mousehole her home after fleeing Odessa in May.
“I love this place and it is a great opportunity,” she said, after a performance of You’ll Never Walk Alone, joined by the Mousehole Male Voice Choir. “I am very grateful for all Charles and Camilla have done and said for Ukraine.” After that, it was time to cool off at Webb’s Ice Cream, where owner Charlotte Webb served up vanilla with Cornish buttercream in a pot with two spoons for the royals to share. Moving on to nearby Newlyn, the Prince and the Duchess visited the town’s fish market and Charles met fishermen on a walkabout of the harbour to learn about the sustainable fishing practices they are adopting.
The day ended with a garden party in the picturesque grounds of Boconnoc House, Lostwithiel, where the royal couple were entertained by music from the St Dennis Band and Steel Appeal and performers from Swamp Circus Trust. Addressing the 600 guests, who were all associated with the Duchy of Cornwall or members of the Cornish community, Prince Charles reflected on the searing heat, saying: “Commitments around net zero have never been more vitally important as we all swelter under today’s alarming record temperatures across Britain and Europe.
“As I have tried to indicate for quite some time, the climate crisis really is a genuine emergency and tackling it is utterly essential – for Cornwall, the country and the rest of the world.” After spending the night at the historic Restormel Manor in Lostwithiel, their base for the three-day visit, the couple swapped parasols for umbrellas at Launceston, where they toured a farmers’ market during a downpour and watched the inaugural Launceston dance parade performed by local children.
Going solo in St Austell, Camilla – who was 75 on 17 July – received a birthday treat at Charlestown School, where pupils presented her with homemade cards as she heard about the work of Silver Stories, of which she is patron. The charity arranges for children to read over the phone to elderly people in the community, marrying two of Camilla’s interests – literacy and combating loneliness in the elderly. As well as being joined by trustee Dame Esther Rantzen, the Duchess was also delighted to meet the school’s therapy dog Freddy and stopped to pet him with a smile. Meanwhile, Charles helped mark the tenth anniversary of Innovative Farmers, an initiative developing sustainable farming practices founded by the Soil Association charity, of which he is a patron.
A long- t ime supporter of sustainable farming, the Prince was delighted by the visit. “There are so many of you I want to talk to about all your experience and expertise,” he told them.
For the last day of the tour, Charles and Camilla headed to Torre Abbey Grounds in Torquay to celebrate 200 years of HM Coastguard. Volunteer Martin Croad showed Charles a drysuit used in rescues to keep the wearer dry, which brought the royal’s wit out. “The Prince said: ‘Do you rip it off and you’ve got a tuxedo underneath like James Bond?’” Martin said later. There was more music to enjoy at their next stop, when the royal couple visited Cockington Court, a stately home that has been turned into a hub for the arts, to meet local beneficiaries of Charles’s The Prince’s Trust charity. This time the musical salute came from Samba Roc, a band set up by United Response, which provides support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs.
Leaving Devon and Cornwall, the Prince and the Duchess went on board HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth for a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands Conflict.
As well as receiving the royal salute from a Royal Navy guard of honour accompanied by an army band, the couple were met by commanding officer Captain Ian Feasey and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. They were also welcomed by Commodore Jamie Miller, the president of the South Atlantic Medal Association (82), of which Charles is royal patron. Jamie, who survived the sinking of HMS Coventry in 1982, said: “To have their royal highnesses present aboard the nation’s flagship – a reminder of the importance of sea power and the vital role of aircraft carriers in the Falklands – is a fitting end to this year’s events and we are truly honoured by their presence. “It is vital that we remember the past to get the present and future right.”