The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Salisbury this week to help support the recovery programme and boost tourism in the wake of the nerve agent attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.
Greeted by thousands of locals the royals arrived to the Wiltshire city for a visit to help boost tourism and help the city return to normality following “the incident on the 4th March,” as the Wiltshire Council refers to the attack.
The inquiry into the attack which saw Mr Skripal, his daughter and police officer DS Nick Bailey taken seriously ill and put into hospital has involved 250 detectives in a major police operation which has caused significant disruption to the city. The officers have been busy interviewing more than 500 witnesses and trawling through more than 5,000 hours of CCTV footage.
The effect of the inquiry on local businesses has been significant with nine business closed as a result and shops near police cordons losing 60 to 80 per cent of customers. Tourism has also dropped by 20 percent which has led locals concerned about the lasting damages of the internationally discussed event.
Speaking with locals during the visit Prince Charles sympathised with their plight, saying: “It must have been a very difficult time.” He expressed a hope that his and the Duchess’s visit could help in a small way.
The royal visit began at The Maltings shopping district where many of the businesses forced to close by the investigation are located. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall greeted market stall owners and said that they hoped business was “getting better” in the wake of the incident and inquiry. The Duchess of Cornwall said of their visit to Salisbury: “It’s very nice to be back and it’s nice to see it back to itself.”
Masses of locals and schoolchildren were on hand to greet the royals and the Prince and Duchess spoke to many with four-year-old Edward Owen getting a cheerful high five from the Prince of Wales. Owen’s grandmother, Sheila, said: “He [the Prince] said he didn’t know how much difference they would make, and I said it was very nice that both of them came. They really do make a difference. These shopkeepers have been through such a difficult time, and this will boost morale.”
Visiting the city’s Guildhall Prince Charles and the Duchess met with DS Bailey as well as first responders, police and intelligence personnel.