Hats off to Charles the cowboy


Published: Thursday 30th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The Prince of Wales looked every inch the Colombian cowboy when he donned a sombrero from the Latin American country.

Charles could not resist the invitation to put on a Vueltiao – a black and white hat made from woven palm leaves and worn by peasants and cattle ranchers from the coast.

And he was also taken by women from the city of Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline who wore colourful dresses.

The prince and Duchess of Cornwall came across the well-known characters when they toured an organic and urban sustainability fair showcasing produce, goods and environmentally friendly projects from across Colombia.

The event was staged at the Bogota residence of the British ambassador, Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby, who joined the royal couple as they walked around the stands.

Known as Palenqueras, after a district in their home city, the women carried on their heads large metal bowls used to transport their goods to market.

The street sellers normally carry fruit in the bowls or traditional sweets they make themselves from coconuts.

When the prince and duchess briefly posed for a picture with the women, Charles could not resist standing on the tips of his toes to try to get a glimpse into one of the bowls.

The heir to the throne, who earlier received a ceremonial welcome to Colombia with his wife as their four-day tour began in earnest, joked with media saying: “I’m not putting one of those on my head.”

The not-for-profit organisation Propais, which works to boost small and medium businesses in Colombia, staged the fair at the ambassador’s residence, bringing produce, people and sustainable ideas from the country’s Pacific, Andean, Amazon and Caribbean regions.

The royal couple tried Colombian varieties of organic chocolate, chatted to producers of ice cream made with exotic flavours and learnt about projects to help growing cities develop sustainably.

In the Caribbean section they chatted to Lizeth Gonzalez, from Propais, who encouraged Charles to put on the traditional sombrero.

She said: “I told him about the hat and said you have to try it on and he was very happy to do so.”

Speaking about the women from the city of Cartagena, Ms Gonzalez added: “They make the sweets called cocadas in the morning and sell it in the city, we gave Prince Charles some of them.”

The fair also featured a large area devoted to the wool trade – from sheep grazing in a pen to spinners, weavers and models wearing clothes made from the fabric.

In a speech to invited guests, Charles – who founded his Duchy Originals range of organic products more than 20 years ago – congratulated the producers whose goods were on show for their “determination and vision” in championing sustainable methods of production.

He joked how his wife “might have a certain amount of sympathy with the ambassador’s wife when it comes to the practicalities of sheep grazing in her garden”.

The prince added: “I have also been greatly interested to learn something of Colombia’s ambitions to create sustainable cities for the future. And I hope you will forgive me if I take this opportunity to encourage you, if I may, to take a holistic approach to this challenge.”

Earlier, Colombia staged a welcome full of military pomp and pageantry for the prince and duchess.

After the ceremonial greeting in the forecourt of the presidential palace the heir to the throne and Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, held talks.

Gifts were exchanged, with Colombia’s head of state and his wife Maria giving Charles a walking stick topped with a silver dove – a symbol of peace used by Mr Santos in his presidential campaign – while Camilla received gold earrings with emeralds in the centre.

The prince and his wife gave Mr Santos, who has learnt to play the bagpipes, a book on bagpipe music and a set of six Highgrove florilegium plates, while the first lady was given a blue and silver enamelled box featuring the duchess’ cypher.

Published: Thursday 30th October 2014 by The News Editor

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