After arriving in the country on Thursday night, fresh off his tour of Brazil, Prince Harry spent Friday performing public engagements in Chile, where he managed to win hearts and bring smiles to the faces of many.
Early in the morning, the 29 year-old prince attended a wreath laying ceremony in the Plaza de la Ciudadania. He placed a wreath at the monument of Bernardo O’Higgins, who was one of Chile’s Founding Fathers, before going to La Moneda Presidential Palace, where he met Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet.
Later in the day, Prince Harry visited the Sagrada Familia Kindergarten in Santiago. The institution takes in 179 indigenous children between the ages of three months and four months who come from disadvantaged families in the area. The Prince, who became an uncle for the first time last year, was seen playing with the toddlers and keeping the children entertained with his antics.
Among those that Harry met was a girl with Down’s Syndrome, and eight month-old Matias Gonzales. The Prince cuddled the baby, who he clearly thought would be good company for his little nephew George, saying: “Who does this little one belong to? Otherwise I’ll take him home.” He interacted with the other children, who were dressed in the traditional Mapuche Indian costumes of ponchos. One of the girls was particularly fond of him, and gave him a kiss before bending down and trying to undo his shoelaces.
The children then performed a few of their local dances, during which the girls waved the medicinal ‘machi’ leaves and the boys played some hockey. Prince Harry was also shown some of the traditional Mapuche musical instruments – and got quite a laugh at his attempt to blow a ‘trutuka’ horn! It was explained to him that they had just celebrated the Indian New Year, an annual ceremony performed by the Mapuche community to ensure a good harvest.
The head teacher, Jimena Perez, was full of praise for the Prince, and said: “Prince Harry was so caring with the children – he picked them up, he played with them and they loved it. He treated them like they were his own. He was so spontaneous and the way he interacted with one of our little girls who had Down’s Syndrome was just beautiful.”
When Prince Harry spoke to the press later, he said: “The dancing was amazing, although my hockey wasn’t so good. This is a culture that could have been lost so it’s really important that it is saved.”
In the evening, His Royal Highness attended The Queen’s Birthday Party at the British Ambassador’s residence in Santiago. Guests at the reception included representatives of the British community in Chile, as well as paralympic athletes, members of the Armed Forces and other people who hail from politics, diplomacy and business.
Prince Harry will end his week-long tour on Sunday, when he will return to the United Kingdom.
Photo Credits: With thanks to @byemilyandrews, Royal Correspondent for The Sun.