On their first full day in Cuba, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall immersed themselves in the local culture, visiting Old Havana and local entrepreneurs as their historic trip to the North American island country.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall started their day with an unannounced visit to Old Havana, beginning at El Templete and including the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales and Obispo.
During their tour of Old Havana, which celebrates its 500th anniversary this year, the royals visited businesses including a bicycle repair and rental, a restoration workshop, a maternity home, and the Plaz de San Francisco, where they watched a children’s theatre performance by La Colmenita. Finally, the royals visited the Iglesia de San Fransisco de Asis, which used to be the English-speakers’ church but now houses concerts.
Prince Charles unveiled a statue for English playwright William Shakespeare, as Old Havana commemorates literary figures.
Their guide through Old Havana was historian Dr Eusebio Leal, the city’s official historian, who showed the couple points of interest on their walk. The crowds were out in full force as Charles and Camilla became the first British royals to visit Cuba.
An American tourist asked Camilla if she was excited for the impending birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby, to which she replied, “Yes, very much so.”
Prince Charles was overheard talking about the media following them around, saying that “They are very energetic, these press people!”
At a barbershop in Old Havana, Prince Charles demurred from the pressing of Josephine Nando to get a haircut; while the Duchess stopped in the doorway of a bar to listen to a band playing.
Old Havana has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and nearly all of the buildings have been restored to their original standings.
Prince Charles then paid a visit to the Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym to watch a training session and meet with the staff and boxers.
Noel Hernandez, a heavyweight boxer, spoke to the Daily Mail about the Prince’s visit and said, “It was a real honour to meet somebody as famous and important as the Prince of Wales and that he took an interest in our gym.”
Following Prince Charles’s solo outing, he and Camilla paid a visit to the Acosta Danza dance company, where they met with the school’s director, Carlos Acosta, and watched two performances.
Acosta will become the artistic director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, which counts Prince Charles as its president. Acosta opened Acosta Danza in 2016 and within a year had already received worldwide acclaim. The school now trains Cuban dancers as well as those from around the world.
Acosta was quoted in the Associated Press saying that he was excited by the royal visit and “the fact that [Prince Charles] wanted to come here to see us, that for me is very special.”
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall then paid a visit to the Muraleando Community Centre to watch and view various artistic pursuits, including attending a dance performance and seeing a sculpture made to commemorate their visit. The sculpture is called El Crecer (in English: Growth).
The couple also watched a performance by the Special School of Camilo Cienfuegos, watched a video editing class hosted by the British Council’s Camara Chia Project, watched an art class and met with elders who make textiles, before listening to a musical performance and signing a guest book to commemorate their visit.
Prince Charles then visited the La Fábrica de Arte Cubano to meet with young entrepreneurs and view their products and services before his final engagement of the night.
In the evening, Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall attended an official welcome dinner at the Palacio de la Revolucion, which was hosted by Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel Bermudez and his spouse, Lis Cuesta Peraza.
Prince Charles inspected a Guard of Honour, and the national anthems of Cuba and the United Kingdom played before the royal couple headed inside to meet privately with the President ahead of dinner.