Whitstable Oyster Festival
The sun shone as Their Royal Highnesses (TRH) arrived at Whitstable Harbour, during the Whitstable Oyster Festival week and they were received on arrival by The Lord-Lieutenant and Viscountess De L’Isle. Enthusiastic crowds were on hand to greet them, many congratulating His Royal Highness (His RH) on the birth of his first grandchild Prince George of Cambridge, some people had brought presents for the new Prince. The tour commenced with an impromptu appearance on stage with Whitstable’s Samba Pelo Mar Band, followed by visits to the Fish Market, stalls and fishermen outside their net stores.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Whitstable RNLI lifeboat, which had been called out to bring two yachtsmen in distress, ashore, proving the emergency services spring into action despite Royal visitors. Happily the crew came ashore before TRH left the lifeboat station and were able to meet them.
The tour concluded with a visit to children taking part in holiday activities near the Yacht Club, a demonstration of the traditional grotter building, which are small hollowed out sandcastles decorated with oyster shells. Her Royal Highness (Her RH) met “Professor” Des Turner who was teaching children about the finer points of a Punch and Judy Show.
Prince’s Trust – Chatham Centre
TRH were received on arrival in Chatham, by Lady Pender OBE DL. The Prince’s Trust – Chatham Centre is housed in The Old Lead and Paint Mill, within The Historic Dockyard. During TRH’s visit they were able to meet and chat with young people taking part in courses to help their development, their tutors, job ambassadors and sponsors.
Chatham Historic Dockyard
Having moved on to Chatham Historic Dockyard proper, TRH were greeted by Ann West MBE JP DL. The Prince of Wales has recently become Patron of the Historic Dockyard and wished to see for himself the large strides which have been made in the restoration of the many historic buildings and their conversion into use for exhibition space and artisanal workshops. His RH’s tour included:
No 3 Slip, “The Cathedral to Ship Building”, has, in partnership with The Royal Engineers Museum, been converted for use as a large object store and activity space. A difficult building of architectural importance to convert from its original use as shipbuilding slips , it has been transformed over a 17 year period, to house displays of historic Royal Engineer Plant, and The RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection, which is on view to visitors.
His RH then visited the archaeological remains of HMS Namur, 1756, and was briefed on their significance and the ambitious plans that are being made to conserve and display them to visitors.
His RH then crossed Museum Square, where he met members of the public visiting the dockyard, on the way to No 1 Smithery building; including a group of Cub Scouts, on a day visit from the Kent International Jamboree, being held at the Kent Show Ground.
During the visit to The Smithery His RH was shown the Treasures Gallery and met craftsmen who occupy the recently opened workshops.
Meanwhile Her RH visited the Railway workshops where she met crowds of visitors, before entering the building to see to see children’s summer holiday activities on the theme of ‘Pirates were explorers too’.
Having crossed Museum Square, meeting visitors on the way, Her RH entered No1 Smithery to view the Summer Exhibition entitled ‘Exploring Antarctica’, before re-joining His RH. TRH then met the trustees of the Historic Dockyard before unveiling a plaque to commemorate their visit. They received, as a gift, a swing for Prince George, made of rope with a wooden seat, all manufactured in the Dockyard.
Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford
TRH’s final stop of the day was at Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford, home of the Hart Dyke family, where having toured the House, they visited The World Garden created by Tom Hart Dyke, following his kidnapping by Columbian terrorists, while on a plant- hunting trip in the year 2000.
TRH were able to see the many rare plants being cultivated and meet all the volunteers who have helped Tom develop the gardens since 2005.