Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Someone came in yesterday and said something to me that I am trying to understand. They said, “I don’t believe in the monarchy but I had a really lovely day Friday.” The fact he had an enjoyable day was not a surprise to me, Lostwithiel did what it does best, it partied.

The event was whispered about for some weeks before we all received the letter, hand delivered, from the town council a week or so before the event; there was to be a royal visit; a visit that was to last two hours.

The plan was to visit one of the oldest buildings in Cornwall to still have the Prince of Wales Feathers, which had just been purchased by the Princes Trust for use by the community. As a grade one listed building the owner is obliged to maintain it and the previous owner could not afford to do so, therefore you could say he was rescuing it for prosperity. The church bells and tower clock are down for refurbishment so he was going to have a look at them, and then a quick visit to the museum before finishing his tour in the mayor’s parlour.

Lostwithiel is a laid back sort of place, but this was going to happen a week before carnival week and so the main street were colourful with bunting and the street banners were up, some shops put out a union jacks or the Cornish flag. It did make people feel maybe they should re-dress the window because one had been pretending not to notice the dust and dead insects. And then there were the chores that were even longer outstanding, like our white granite at the entrance of the shop that was black with decades of dirt and dog pee and had been a task we had meant to do for the last four years the shop has been open.

Different gangs of suited people had visited the town at different times wondering the place with clip boards in hand. As the time neared, the ‘will he won’t he’ be visiting shops question went around the town. A shop keeper came in saying a security guy had been in and checked them out which lead them to expect a visit. No one had been in to us. Then a plain cloths policeman told us we were on a possible list. On the day of the visit, when half the street was barricaded to keep the public contained, we over heard the butchers next door being asked to stand outside to invite Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall into their shop. No-one came and asked us to be prepared.

As the royal visit progressed we heard they had been in the bakers, and sprung a surprised visit on Old Palace antiques, talked to a lot of the locals and rumour has it a kissed from one. After coming from the butchers Camilla was given a bouquet by Luke’s partner’s daughter, and talked to my grandson, there is a wonderful picture of him with his arm stretched out towards the Prince. Leanne said he was trying to hit him, Luke that he was going for his wallet. Then suddenly we were asked if we would like to stand in our doorway, I thought it was just to get a good view as he walked past, but no, suddenly there they were, shaking my hand and going into my shop and looking and talking about our products. They admired the baskets that had arrived the afternoon before, causing a mad last minute rearranging of the shop to find room to put them. Camilla commented that they would have to come shopping here when Prince Charles even asked the price of something. Also it amused them that we sold a chimney sweeps brush, (Luke commented they were not our best sellers), and they also admired the wonderful feather dusters we sell. And then they were gone.

Everyone felt uplifted by the visit, there was a lovely atmosphere in town all day even by those who had ‘bah humbugged’ the event, the Friday early doors pub visit was buzzing with talk about the day, all of it positive, everyone felt good. When I think about the people in my close acquaintance who have met him, and it is quite a few, I realise how hard they work to meet the people, how hard it must be to be smiling and pleasant all the time regardless to how you are feeling (an Officer close to the Prince had died the day before).

I am still no further forward in understanding the comment that seems such a contradiction, but I do thank them for not only saving the Duchy Palace but also for a. A lovely day that was enjoyed by all who came into town that day

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