The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall continued their six-day tour of the Western Balkans today, carrying out a number of engagements in Croatia, following their arrival yesterday.
Beginning the second day of their visit, the royal couple made the trip to Osijek, the largest city in Slavonia, in eastern Croatia. Starting the day together, Charles and Camilla were full of energy as they sampled a glass of wine and local spirit each as they attended the city’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival.
The festival saw locals flogging their wares at stalls, with the royals stopping the admire some of the crafts and local produce for which the area is famed. The city’s focus on producing organic food is sure to have pleased Charles, who is a keen supporter of organic farming and has campaigned for better agricultural attitudes for many years.
The Prince and Duchess continued their morning at Osijek’s Co-Cathedral where they viewed the work being done to restore the building’s old and damaged stained glass windows following its involvement in the Homeland war.
Osijek was on the front line of the war between Croatia and the Yugoslav Army between 1991 and 1995 and Charles, who has worked for many years to encourage inter-faith dialogue and a greater understanding of different religions, attended a meeting with faith and community leaders. The meeting, organised by Osijek’s Centre for Peace and Non-Violence, saw the beginning of separate engagement for the royal couple.
The Duchess of Cornwall, meanwhile, attended a meeting with local mentors and practitioners on preventing sexual violence. Camilla has campaigned hard since 2009 on the issue and heard about how sexual violence is used as a weapon of war and the issues facing those affected.
The Duchess was also introduced to the world-famous Lipizzaner foals at the State Stud Farm in ?akovo, one of the oldest horse farms in Europe, where The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh made a trip in 1972.
The couple’s second and final day in Croatia will end this evening with a reception at the British Council for Charles, following an afternoon spent in the Kopacki Rit Wetlands.The Prince is vice patron of the British Council and will help celebrate its 70th anniversary in Croatia.
Charles and Camilla were welcomed to the country on Monday. The Croatian President, Mrs Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic greeted the pair after their landing at Zagreb Airport before escorting them to a full Ceremonial Welcome at the Presidential Palace.
Wrapped up warm in a black overcoat, Charles was led down the awaiting red carpet as he conducted an inspection of troops, addressing them in their native language: ‘Pozdrav VoJnici’, meaning “we salute you soldiers”.
Charles last visited the region two decades ago, in 1996, and Monday’s arrival is the first stop on a tour that will also see the Prince and Duchess visit Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia on behalf of the government.
Camilla brought a touch of spring to the trip as she looked on. Resplendent in a purple coat, black gloves and patterned headscarf, she smiled widely as she clutched a large bouquet of flowers and battled with the Balkan elements.
Their Royal Highnesses then took in views from Zagreb’s Upper Town, riding the 125 year old Funicular Railway before meeting the Director of the Croatian Restoration Institute, Mario Braun. Mr Braun gave the pair an explanation of how the repair and reconstruction work to architectural damage following the Croatian Independence War.
It was a fitting beginning to the tour, which is expected to expected to focus on promoting peace and reconciliation in the region. The Balkans were at the centre of an ethnic war in the 1990s and, more recently, have been impacted by Europe’s migration crisis.
Charles and Camilla’s afternoon in the Croatian capital was a cultured one. The Prince and Duchess visited the Croatian National Theatre as part of a cultural programme for school children marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The royals were also treated to an evening opera recital at the theatre, before viewing some costumes and meeting costume designers, set designers, make-up artists and front of house staff. The Royal visitors also met children, teachers and parents from SOS Children’s Village Croatia, an organisation who work to prevent family breakdown and care for children who have lost parental care or risk losing it.
The pair seemed engrossed as performers gave a traditional folk dance, dressed in red and white outfits that represented the colours of the Croatian flag.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall ended their first day with a dinner, hosted by The President of Croatia, at The Presidential Palace. Charles used the opportunity to congratulate the country on its achievements since his last visit, telling the assembled crowd: “I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see how this beautiful city has been so sensitively restored.”
The Prince referenced his last visits to the country, saying: “The last two times I have visited Croatia the country was at war and just recovering from war,” but added, “Croatia has made so much of the opportunities that peace has given… May I wish you all continuing peace and prosperity.”
Charles and Camilla will move on to Belgrade, Serbia tomorrow and continue their tour until March 19.