Prince Charles and his wife Camilla today (31) kicked off in Singapore their 11-day Asia tour which will also take the royal couple to Malaysia and India.
Singapore’s first female president Halimah Yacob welcomed 68-year-old Prince Charles and the 70-year-old Duchess of Cornwall at Istana, the Presidential Palace. The prince received a ceremonial welcome at the Istana grounds and also inspected a guard of honour.
The royal couple met local athletes participating in the Queen’s Baton Relay, which is travelling around the world ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
At the Istana, they sat down for talks with Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching.
The Istana visit was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph, which honours soldiers who died during the World War I and World War II.
At the war memorial in Esplanade Park, the couple also interacted with war veterans and students. The couple will be honoured with a state banquet this evening.
The four-day visit is Prince Charles second and Camilla’s first trip to Singapore.
It is part of their 11-day Asia trip with visits to Malaysia and finally to India. Their visit is being linked to building momentum for the Commonwealth summit to be hosted by the UK in April 2018.
The royal couple will arrive in India on November 8 for a two-day visit to be dominated by UK-India Year of Culture celebrations.
The visit, being undertaken by the heir to the British throne on behalf of the UK government, will include a meeting with India prime minister Narendra Modi, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said.
The visit marks the first major UK royal visit to India since Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton undertook a tour of the country in April last year on the request of the British government.
According to media reports, Myanmar was considered for the trip but was excluded from the itinerary.
While officials have refused to elaborate on the reasons for the royals skipping Myanmar, it is widely believed that a spate of violence and allegations of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar authorities led to the cancellation.
The displacement of over 500,000 minority Muslim Rohingyas amid violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state has become a major humanitarian crisis, with Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi facing heavy international criticism.
Charles and Camilla had met Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi at their official London residence, Clarence House, in May for talks.
The meeting took place before violence erupted in the country, which has led to the displacement of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
The UK government has repeatedly called on Suu Kyi to take a firm stand against the violence.