The Duchess of Cornwall will begin her New Year of royal engagements at the University of Aberdeen next Thursday, visiting in her capacity as its Chancellor.
Camilla, known as the Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, will open the university’s new Rocking House Nursery – a new £2m development aimed at giving staff and students with young children, a convenient child care solution. During her visit, the Duchess will unveil a plaque commemorating the official opening and meet with staff and students, both working at and making use of the facility.
The nursery is the first fully certified Passivhaus (Passive House) building in a Scottish university, meaning it is designed to be extremely energy-efficient. The concept is a global building standard, which results in buildings using very little energy to heat or cool themselves. The Rocking House Nursey is the first pre-school in Scotland to use the design, which has allowed it to take on an additional 30 children.
Opened in August last year, the new building caters for 78 children compared with its previous capacity of 47. The youngsters, aged 0 to 5 and from over 20 nationalities, will have a chance to meet Camilla as she tours the facilities next week.
The Duchess, who became the university’s 11th Chancellor in 2013, will also visit the university’s iconic Sir Duncan Rice Library. Opened in 2012 by The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, the library houses an impressive collection of over 1 million books and, since its redevelopment by Danish architects Schmidt hammer lassen, rare historic manuscripts, books and archives dating back to the 15th century have been given pride of place.
Camilla will chat with students using the library and have chance to view some of the rarer items from the university’s special collection, including the Aberdeen Bestiary. This illuminated manuscript, which has survived from the 12th century, is considered one of the finest examples of its type to exist anywhere in the world. Its extraordinary artistry and craftsmanship details a medieval understanding of the natural world including birds and beasts, mythical and true.
The Duchess will also meet staff and students researching the effects of waves on coastal and off shore engineering using flumes and wave machines. She will be also hear about research into renewable energy and seaweed production, which can be turned into a sustainable bio fuel. The royal will also have a chance to learn about the role of aquatic vegetation in rivers and how they help minimise flooding risks. Her visit comes following significant flooding in the region. The garden at her Scottish home, Birkhall, was devastated recently after a nearby river burst its banks and land surrounding Abergeldie Castle near The Queen’s Balmoral Estate, has been ripped away by the floodwaters.
Her final visit of the day will be to Aberdeen’s Guild of Burgesses, where she will meet members of the Guild and present to them with their new Armorial Bearings. The Guild is made up of respected members of the local community and businessmen who promote the city and act as its ambassadors through their charitable and other work.
Originally founded in 1214, the Guild initially consisted of merchants who enjoyed trading privileges in the city. The new arms, given in celebration of their 800th anniversary, depict three merchant ships, representing the Burgesses historic role in city commerce and Aberdeen’s links to the sea.