Prince Charles urges continued close ties ‘whatever happens’

Royal speaks of affection for Ireland and importance of Anglo-Irish relations in Co Wicklow

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation in Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation in Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Prince of Wales has spoken of the “vital links” that exist between the Republic and the United Kingdom during a two-day visit to Co Wicklow.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visited the Powerscourt House and Gardens on Monday afternoon.

In an address to guests during his visit, he said that “whatever happens”, both countries needed to maintain close ties.

President Michael D Higgins and the Prince of Wales watch members of the Celtic Flair Irish Dance Troupe at the Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation in Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
President Michael D Higgins and the Prince of Wales watch members of the Celtic Flair Irish Dance Troupe at the Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation in Co Wicklow. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

He said: “I must say you are always so incredibly kind and welcoming here in Ireland and to put up with us yet again as we attempt to cover all the counties before we finally disintegrate completely.”

“What makes it so special coming to Ireland, apart from the wonderful welcome, is being able to celebrate and remind ourselves of all those absolutely vital links between us that go back so many hundreds if not thousands of years. To remind us of how much we depend on each other in so many ways. That to me is one of the great things about our relationship.

“As I say, it has given my wife and I such particular joy in the last few years to be able to reinforce those links. I was thinking that when I first was looking for a house in England, the reason at the end of the day more than anything else that I chose where I ended up, a place called Highgrove, was because it had the most wonderful Irish man looking after it, who was a really remarkable man and whom I was enormously fond of. He was a great man for the horses and I remember he used to say me every now and then, ‘I am just off to the library.’ The library, I would say. Of course what he was really doing was to put a very large bet on some special fancied horse he had and he won an awful lot is all I can tell you.

“Apart from anything else, it ensured I have a particular affection for Irish men ever since. We love coming here. Whatever happens, the great thing is to go on understanding how much we mean to each other.”

Relationship

The cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council Pat Vance also spoke of the relationship between the two countries.

“Our relationship with our neighbours in the UK goes back a long time. As a maritime country, we have traded for centuries with our nearest neighbours. We have helped to build your cities and fought in your army.”

The chief executive of Wicklow County Council Frank Curran said that “whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, we plan to continue to welcome visitors from the United Kingdom, our nearest neighbours. We hope that we can continue to develop and grow our business with the United Kingdom as we have been doing for centuries and we welcome with open arms and?? company wishing to establish a business in our county.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris was also present and said the Government extended its welcome to the royals.

After his speech, a number of gifts were presented including a pot of locally made honey and a shillelagh stick.

Earlier in the day, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the gardens of the Powerscourt Estate.

Prince Charles planted a Giant Redwood tree, following in the footsteps of luminaries such as Princess Grace of Monaco, Jackie Onassis and Buzz Aldrin, who have planted trees in the Gardens.

He later joked that he knew the tree would be moved.

“As so often happens to me when planting trees I discover it will immediately be dug up and removed the moment we leave, to be planted at a better time of year. I pray one day I shall be able to come back and see how it is coming on.”

The head gardener of the Powerscourt Estate Alex Slazenger said the tree planted by Prince Charles was the largest tree in the world and should live for 1,000 years.

The Prince of Wales later visited Cool Planet Experience, a climate change-centred attraction in Wicklow. He was shown polymer capsules which can carry liquid and then dissolve, causing less harm to the environment. He joked about how the technology would work with whiskey instead of water.

While there, he met local schoolchildren who were competing in the “Race to 2050” climate action game.