Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Charles loosens up with hokey cokey

The Prince of Wales at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting dinner.
The Prince of Wales at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting dinner.

The Prince of Wales is known to like to dance while away on official tours and in Sri Lanka he got his opportunity - doing the hokey cokey.

The sight of Charles putting his left leg in, and his left leg out is not something you see every day.

But the heir to the throne clearly enjoyed himself as he joined a group of mentally and physically disabled children taking part in a music lesson.

The impromptu dancing came on the last day of Charles and Camilla's 11- day tour of India and Sri Lanka.

It was a contrast to the formality of Charles' role yesterday, when he opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, attended by David Cameron and world leaders.

Standing between a teacher and a girl Charles took their hands and walked into the middle of the room with the class singing "oh the hokey cokey" then performed all the actions.

The prince gamely joined in for a number of verses of the song but when a pianist continued playing he laughed and bowed out.

Charles was touring the Mencafep Centre for disabled children, in Nuwara Eliya in the centre of the island nation, an institution founded by Briton Chris Stubbs and his wife Ranji in 1988.

Based in a picturesque valley it provides education, vocational training and support for families.

As Charles toured the classrooms, gardens, allotment and other areas of the centre he joined Madona Soloman, 17, who was making a rug by pushing strips of felt through a cloth using a needle.

One of the prince's entourage warned him about pricking his finger and he joked "I have done. I've got the wrong sort of fingers to do this."

During a visit to a tea plantation Charles joined pickers from the historic 1,000 acre Labookellie estate on the slopes of a picturesque valley covered in rows and rows of tea bushes.

He chatted to Thandawa Vithamerry as she deftly picked the green leaves of the plant and put them into a basket.

Neetha Martenstyna, a tea guide with the company Mackwoods which runs the estate, talked the prince through the process of producing the tea.

She said afterwards: "You have to pick two or three leaves and a bud. He was asking how long we can keep picking from the same plant and I said 40 to 50 years and he said 'so long'."

Ms Martenstyna explained the leaves go through a detailed process that involved a number of stages from removing the moisture from the leaves - called withering - to drying, rolling and eventually grading.

Charles had the chance to sample a number of teas and sipped from a spoon as staff explained the different gradings, but most of them were not strong enough for the prince who described them as "too mild," adding "I like it stronger, and with milk."

Before the Prince left the Mackwoods estate, he was given a silver-plated box containing two tea caddies, one containing Prince of Wales blend and the other containing Prince George blend.

Earlier the prince kept a 15-year-old promise when he paid his respects at Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist shrine - containing a tooth from the Buddha.

A terrorist bombing in another part of the country prevented the heir to the throne from visiting the temple in Kandy in 1998.

Charles was ushered into the inner sanctum of a temple complex containing the sacred artefact - but even he did not see it.

The left wisdom tooth is only brought out into the public once every five years, for just over a week, with up to 50,000 a day making the pilgrimage to catch a glimpse of it.

The Chief Lay Custodian of the shrine, Pradeep Nilanga Dela Bandara led the prince through two ornate silver doors with a handful of monks.

Charles carried a bowl of flower petals into the shrine and emerged a few minutes later.

The relic was smuggled to Sri Lanka in the 4th century by an Indian princess who hid the tooth in her hair and has been kept at the temple since 1592.

The duchess, meanwhile, stayed in Colombo where she joined an art class at Home-Start Sri Lanka, an organisation that helps children and parents to increase skills including reading and computing.

The students and the duchess picked out pieces of paper at random to determine animals they had to draw, and the Duchess picked out elephant, horse and squirrel.

As she put pen to paper she said: "My husband is a very good painter."

The duchess decided to combine all three animals in one beast, and held up a drawing of a horse with an elephant's bottom and a squirrel's tail, saying: "That's my strange contribution."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz