The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Malaysia on Friday, but for the three days before that they were visiting Singapore and Brunei. Unfortunately I don’t have time to cover this tour day in and day out – not to mention it’s been a little busy with UK news – but I do want to periodically check in with them on their travels as they move through southeast Asia and India. So, today we’re going to cover the first leg’s highlights and later this week we’ll wrap up Malaysia.
They are undertaking this tour on behalf of the Queen at the request of the government in advance of next April’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London. With the future of the Commonwealth up in the air (long-term, at least) and its viability quite possibly the Queen’s first priority since she ascended the throne, the 50 or so engagements Charles and Camilla will be carrying out over the course of these 11 days are but one piece of an all-encompassing push to highlight the unity of the Commonwealth nations.
One thing I do want to flag is that since I wasn’t following this tour each day and in light of the time difference, there may be a few discrepancies on the order of events – I’m piecing it together as I go! Charles and Camilla arrived in Singapore on Monday, October 30. The couple actually arrived separately, with Charles coming from the UK and Camilla returning from a private holiday. My God, can you imagine if the Duchess of Cambridge ever met her husband from a personal trip on a tour? It would be debated for days. DAYS!
The big news from the arrival had nothing to do with travel logistics, though. It was that the couple shared a public kiss, which is (apparently) only the third time that has ever happened and the first time in 12 years. What Prince Harry can do, so too can Charles.
They then met with President Halimah Yacob, the Prime Minister and Charles laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in honor of World War I. He was noted by reporters covering the event to be “overcome with emotion,” and indeed, photos taken of him at the memorial do appear to show him tearing up. Appreciation for and involvement with the military runs deep in the Royal Family, however it’s still rather noticeable when a member of the older generations (or the younger, for that matter) shows that much emotion in public.
The following day, Charles walked through a nature reservoir known as Singapore’s Green Lung, which is naturally right up his alley.
He also visited an organization known as the Harmony Centre, which advocates for interfaith peace. Perhaps less well-publicized recently, Charles has been outspoken in his support of freedom of religion and the validity of religions outside of the Church of England. This has noticeably extended to Islam, sparking some controversy in the last two decades. Regardless, he has rightfully never backed down from this position and this was a very “Charles” engagement.
Camilla also carried out solo engagements, but we’re blowing right by them to keep ticking through the tour. I do want to call out, though, how amazing she looked at the reception that evening.
There was a memorable tour of the historic neighborhood Tiong Bahru where Camilla had the chance to show up her artistic skills (she – and Charles for that matter – paint as a hobby).
On Thursday, Nov. 2, the two left Singapore for Brunei, a country recently visited by the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
They were greeted by the Crown Prince and his wife, Princess Sarah. The younger couple married in 2004 when the bride was just 17 and a student at Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College. They have three children, two sons and a daughter, born between 2007 and 2015, and are expecting a fourth.
They then met the Sultan and his wife, Queen Saleha. Appropriately, there was a very formal tea served. Reportedly, Camilla spoke to the Queen about the exhaustion that accompanies these foreign tours, saying, “It’s more tiring as you get older. I keep trying to tell everybody that I’m not as young as I used to be, and have to slow down.”
Yikes. Less that it’s impolitic to speak to how tiring traveling – and Camilla famously doesn’t care for the heat – then that there’s definitely some angst over how much work each generation is doing. And I hate to say it, but that’s also now a quote you want floating around when there seems to be a push to have Camilla crowned queen consort. I mean, this issue is only going to get worse, not better – at least for the next few years.
Not a great note to end on, I realize, but that sums up the major moments from Singapore and Brunei. There were certainly a few more engagements I didn’t cover, so if you’re interested I would point you towards the Clarence House Twitter feed, which has many more photos, or The Telegraph’s coverage, which has been reporting on this tour regularly.
As noted, we’ll wrap up Malaysia later this week. Based on what I’ve seen it looks like it’s been an amazing (and photogenic) visit thus far. This coming week is definitely going to be heavy on modern posts thanks to how many engagements are scheduled, but there will be at least one historical post and one more The Crown recap.