Royal couple highlight 'vital links' during visit to County Wicklow
Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall took in Glencree, Powerscourt and Bray Women's Refuge on Monday, during their two-day visit to County Wicklow this week.
Addressing a reception at Powerscourt on Monday, the Prince of Wales said that something special about visiting Ireland was the chance to 'celebrate and remind ourselves of those vital links between us that go back hundreds, if not thousands of years.
'Whatever happens, the great thing is to go on to understand how much we mean to one another,' he said.
This was the couple's fifth visit to Ireland in five years, and, thanking the public for 'putting up with us yet again', he said that he and Camilla will 'attempt to cover all the counties before we completely disintegrate'.
The first engagement of the trip for the royal couple was a celebration of peace at Glencree on Monday morning. A poem written by the late founding member of Glencree, Una O'Higgins O'Malley and written to honour the prince's 2002 visit was read to the audience by young people from three schools working with Glencree. An engraving of the poem in Wicklow granite was jointly unveiled by His Royal Highness Prince Charles and President Michael D Higgins.
Speaking at the event, Barbara Walshe, chair of Glencree said: 'The symbolism of today's event, reminds us of how deeply entwined our countries are, physically, socially, economically, culturally and historically.'
At Powerscourt, the royal visitors were greeted by managing director Sarah Slazenger, head gardener Alex Slazenger and Lord Powerscourt Anthony Wingfield.
The Prince and Duchess admired the breathtaking views of the Italian Gardens and Sugarloaf Mountain before meeting guests at a reception next to the Palladian Mansion, Powerscourt House.
The Prince planted a giant redwood tree, following in the footsteps of Princess Grace of Monaco, Jackie Onassis and Buzz Aldrin, who have planted trees in the gardens.
The strong links between Wicklow, Ireland and Great Britain were stressed by the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Vance, when welcoming Their Royal Highnesses. 'Your presence here today and your commitment to visiting each of our 32 counties and to getting to know the Irish as friends, neighbours and trading partners, while at the same time acknowledging our shared history, is very positive and encouraging,' said Cllr Vance at a reception in their honour hosted by Wicklow County Council.
Frank Curran, chief executive of Wicklow County Council, also welcomed them and thanked the visitors for choosing Wicklow as their destination. 'Your commitment to getting to know our people, our landscape, our literature and our heritage means a lot to us,' said Mr Curran.
'It is truly a great honour to host The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at Powerscourt Estate,' said Sarah Slazenger. 'Just as His Royal Highness has devoted much energy to transforming the gardens at Highgrove, my team and I have dedicated ourselves to developing one of most inspiring and magical gardens and estates in the world.'
At the adjacent Cool Planet Experience, the Prince had the opportunity to see one of their pioneering kids' workshops in action; and meet local schoolchildren who were competing in the 'Race to 2050' game; before heading on to meet some of the 50 Cool Planet Champions. The champions are volunteers recruited by Cool Planet and trained by international leaders in the field of climate change, charged with the mission of spreading the message throughout the country via their local communities.
Electrifi showed the prince an electrified 1983 Range Rover.
Bray Women's Refuge opened its doors on Monday afternoon to welcome the Duchess, who has a strong interest in supporting issues surrounding domestic violence.
Staff gave her a tour of recently refurbished buildings and she had the opportunity to meet two service users who told the Duchess about their personal situations and the support they have received from Bray Women's Refuge.
Service manager Anne-Marie McMorrow presented Camilla with a print by a local Irish artist Simone Walsh depicting the Cliff Walk.