Prince Charles and Camilla will fly to Sri Lanka from India mid next month after a nine-day tour. Though the Prince of Wales will be in India on his 65th birthday, he will celebrate the landmark with the leaders of the Commonwealth at a reception in Colombo.
Prince Charles will make a three-day tour of Sri Lanka to represent the Queen at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Both the Royal Highnesses will attend the official opening ceremony and a dinner, hosted by the Prince, for Commonwealth Heads of Government.
In addition, the Prince will hold a few bilateral meetings with Commonwealth Heads and others on issues of key importance to the summit. During their stay in Sri Lanka, the Prince and the Duchess will also carry out a program of official engagements including a visit to a mental health initiative, a hospital and a tea estate.
This will be the Prince of Wales’ first visit to Sri Lanka in eight years after his last visit to Colombo in 2005 in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
Prior to their arrival in Sri Lanka, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will spend nine days in India. The Prince will be in Kochi in the south-western state of Kerala on November 14, the day he becomes a pensioner, but it will be a busy working day for him and the Duchess.
They will visit a 16th century synagogue, the oldest in the Commonwealth, as well as a museum before boarding a flight to Colombo, where they will attend a reception at the British High Commission.
A spokesman for the Prince said no formal party was planned, but “there’s likely to be some singing and maybe even a cake” at the High Commission reception. The royal couple will have a rest day on November 13, giving them time for a private celebration, though royal sources said the Prince “doesn’t want any fuss” about the fact that he will be eligible for his free bus pass.
The Prince will one day become the first person to ascend the throne while of pensionable age. He is already the oldest male heir to the throne in history, and has waited longer than anyone else to become a monarch.
The Prince and the Duchess will pay their respects at a memorial to the 164 people who died in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. They will also meet some of the staff of the Taj Mahal Hotel who saved the lives of guests by guiding them to safety during the co-ordinated attacks on 12 separate targets.
The trip will be the couple’s third joint visit to India and their most extensive tour of the country to date. As well as visiting Mumbai and Kochi they will travel to New Delhi and Dehradun, taking in such diverse engagements as a visit to a school in a New Delhi slum, a mosque, Hindu and Buddhist temples and a remote elephant trail in the forests of Kerala.
The Duchess of Cornwall is expected to fly to India early to have a holiday at the same £1,140-a-night health spa in Bangalore that she visited before the couple’s last visit to the country in 2010. Her spokesman has refused to comment when asked if the Duchess would spend time at the Soukya Holistic Health Centre, which offers therapies involving leeches and vomiting purges as well as more familiar alternative therapies such as yoga and acupuncture. The Duchess also went to the spa before the couple’s visit to Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand last year.
The Prince of Wales will undertake a broad range of engagements to promote the strong UK-India partnership in key areas such as conservation, education, growing business links, women’s empowerment and training.
They will also have the opportunity to celebrate religious diversity, creativity and the vibrant individual family ties between the two countries.
In their most extensive visit to India to date, the Prince and The Duchess will travel to Dehradun, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kochi where they will meet India’s top political, business and cultural leaders.
Specific events include the Prince making an off-road trip into an “elephant corridor” in Kerala, The Duchess visiting the prestigious Doon School, and both Their Royal Highnesses visiting the Indian Military Academy and attending a gala dinner in Mumbai with a Bollywood flavour. They will also mark Remembrance Sunday while in India.
[Via Sunday Observer]