The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to the friendship between Ireland and Britain, recounting his delight at returning to the “majestic land”.
Charles rested on his ambition to visit every county in Ireland, as he and the Duchess of Cornwall enjoyed their first joint official visit to County Waterford.
Using a few sentences spoken in Irish, he told a crowd gathered for a mayoral reception at Waterford Town Hall that it was good to be with old friends again.
The couple enjoyed blue skies and bright sunshine as they were greeted at the start of their visit with a Viking re-enactment, a nod to the past of Ireland’s oldest city.
The couple smiled and looked intrigued as two actors engaged in a mock battle with swords and shields in front of a Viking boat, something Charles later said will “certainly live long in our memories.”
Although the official foundation of Waterford as a permanent settlement dates back to 914 AD. C., historians say that there are several references to Viking camps from the year 860 AD. c.
Charles and Camilla, who were given a tour of the city’s medieval museum, met members of the local community on a walk, as well as first responders who have helped during the coronavirus pandemic.
Charles also met with members of the local Ukrainian community and said something that was “very moving” to learn of Ireland’s efforts to support them.
In his speech, he said his thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine “as they continue to face so much uncertainty and brutal aggression.”
He added: “The times we are living in highlight the importance of peace and friendship, which history tells us we can all too easily take for granted.
“It is one more demonstration of how our two countries are not just neighbors, but partners who, although we have traveled a difficult path together at times, through reconciliation and understanding have forged a future that has benefited both our peoples and the world”.
Speaking warmly of his fondness for the country, Charles quipped: “It has long been one of our great ambitions to visit every county in this majestic land before senility overtakes us entirely.”
Before their speech, the couple met with various members of the Waterford community, including business people.
Knitwear designer Christine Murphy, whose brightly colored outfit Charles admired, said the pair are “very welcome” in Ireland.
The 45-year-old, whose Waterford-based business Urban Aran specializes in sustainable clothing, said: “He said to me: ‘I love colours, is this your job? You are a designer?
“I thought he was very nice and that he gave his time. I think it’s amazing that Waterford, which is Ireland’s oldest city, has royalty come here and recognize it, given the history between Britain and Ireland.
“They are very much welcomed by the people of Waterford today.”
The warm reception from the locals continued when Charles went on an impromptu walk after visiting the local social enterprise Grow It Yourself (GIY), where he got stuck helping some schoolchildren with a potato planting demonstration.
He was accompanied on the visit by the Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, and toured the site’s café and met with community groups in the orchard and frontline staff from the neighboring hospital.
Before leaving, Charles crossed the street to shake hands with passers-by who had come out to see the heir to the throne, clapping and cheering his arrival.
People were shouting “Welcome to Ireland” and a woman asked him if he had had lunch and seemed to jokingly offer him some lasagna.
Local student Laura Smith, 22, said she was “so excited” to meet Charles and didn’t expect him to come out to greet her and her father David.
She said: “He is lovely, he had time for everyone. The visit is good publicity for Waterford.”
While Charles enjoyed visits that appealed to his environmental passions, Camilla, an enthusiastic jockey, went to Henry of Bromhead Stables to see Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle and Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle winning jockey Rachael Blackmore .
There, she took a tour of the stables, talked to the staff and watched a lesson, and it was revealed that Camilla will be presenting the winning trophy at this year’s Grand National.
Together, the pair previously visited the world-renowned glass company Waterford Crystal, seeing the production process for themselves and even trying out the etching.
Thursday was the first of the royals’ two-day tour of the Republic, which comes after they spent two days in Northern Ireland.
There, they enjoyed a warm reception from crowds in County Tyrone and Belfast.
Their trip is one of several taking place as the royal family marks the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.