Today, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent. In April the Prince agreed to become Patron of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust for a five year term.
The Prince of Wales meeting Admiral Sir Ian Garnett
On arrival at the Dockyard, the Prince and the Duchess took separate routes in order to see as many different exhibitions as possible. News Subeditor Ellen Couzens was part of the media team following the Prince as he toured Museum Square, while Blog Subeditor Karen Kilrow was in the Railway Workshop to see the Duchess. The Prince arrived outside No.3 Covered Slip and chatted to the waiting public including a local scout group.
He was presented with a Kent International Jamboree necker by one of the scouts. A little girl ran up to give the Prince a present and card for Prince George, which he received with a warm smile. When a member of the crowd asked him how his new grandson was, he replied ‘Very well, very special.’The Prince then walked around Museum Square and viewed The Ship’s Timbers (recently discovered timbers newly confirmed as having belonged to the Namur), before viewing the Dockyard’s museum artefacts in No.1 Smithery and posing for photographs alongside a painting of his ancestor, George III.
The Prince of Wales meeting local scouts
His Royal Highness also met local creative industry representatives and was shown the Dockyard’s website. The Dockyard Trust felt it was important for the Prince to see No. 1 Smithery, now a sensitively refurbished exhibition space in partnership with the National Maritime Museum and The Imperial War Museum, as on his last visit in 2004 the building was so dilapidated he could not even get inside.
At the same time, The Duchess of Cornwall was being entertained in the Railway Workshop, by a group of local children dressed as pirates and singing a pirate song to the tune of This Old Man. After the singing, the Duchess made time to congratulate all the children and speak to the majority individually. Although she was reminded that her next appointment in No.1 Smithery was due, the Duchess didn’t leave until she had spoken to everyone she possibly could. She then walked past the Three Historic Warships and viewed the Exploring Antarctica Exhibition before meeting up with her husband to greet the receiving line made up of Trust dignitaries.
Admiral Sir Ian Garnett, Chairman of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, gave a short speech thanking The Prince and The Duchess for their visit and presented them with a swing made at the Dockyard out of salvaged timber from HMS Gannet for their garden and to entertain Prince George when he comes to stay. The Prince then unveiled a plaque commemorating their visit to the Dockyard, before they signed the visitors book and departed.The overriding impression we were left with was of two very personable and dedicated Royals, who have a real interest in both our heritage and in meeting local people.
Article written and pictures taken by Ellen Couzens and Karen Kilrow