She’s had a busy schedule of engagements since landing in West Africa on Friday evening, but the the Duchess of Cornwall looked remarkably fresh today as she stepped out for a conference in Accra
The royal kept her cool in 29C heat in a loose fitting white tunic and trousers as she attended a school prize giving ceremony where she challenged young people from across the Commonwealth to take part in a venerable essay writing competition.
She was flying solo for the engagement while her husband Prince Charles attended a Young Entrepreneurs Event with Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo, during which he made an emotive speech acknowledging the ’abject horror’ of Britain’s role in slavery.
Although he did not make a full apology for what he described as an ‘indelible stain’, he did not shy away from Britain’s involvement in ‘the unimaginable suffering it caused’.
He added: While Britain can be proud that it later led the way in the abolition of this shameful trade, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that the abject horror of slavery is never forgotten.’
Meanwhile, Camilla was at Ghana International School in the capital Accra to launch the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition for 2019.
Camilla, 70, kept her cool in 29C heat, wearing a loose-fitting white tunic and trousers as she made her way to the Women of the World (WOW) Roundtable at the British Council in Accra, Ghana
Copy Camilla and carry a Heidi Klein mini raffia bag
The Duchess of Cornwall has had rather a busy time of it during her trip to Ghana so far, but she’s made the most of it when it comes to the wardrobe department.
On a solo engagement to the Women of the World Roundtable event, Camilla once again wore Fiona Clare, who has designed the Duchess a custom white tunic set which is smart yet sophisticated and in accordance with the scorching weather. However, it was Camilla’s finishing touches with this Heidi Klein bag that caught our eye.
The brand aren’t just notorious for their swimwear as their ‘Savannah Bay’ bag has become a cult classic and is certainly a favourite of Camilla’s having spotted her accessorising with the mini bamboo handle bag a lot this trip.
It’s an indispensable piece for any accessory lover and will come in handy when the warmer weather pays a visit or on any impending holiday. So get the royally approved bag for yourself by clicking (right) for £220.
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The Duchess of Cornwall meeting influential Ghanaian women at the Women of the World (WOW) Roundtable at the British Council in Accra, Ghana
Charles looked in good spirits as he joked with cocoa and shea butter producers at a Young Entrepreneurs Event at the International Conference Centre, in Accra
Camilla, who sported a poppy brooch on her tunic ahead of Armistice Day, was flying solo for this morning’s engagement in Accra
First Lady of Ghana Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall pose with Students during The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
The competition, open to young people from across the 53-nation organisation, was founded in 1883.
At the school she was greeted by an audience of 1,500 pupils who took part in the 2018 Queen’s Essay Competition.
Three of the award winners read out their essays from the stage and camilla posed for a picture with many of the 198 Ghanaian pupils who won gold, silver or bronze awards in this year’s competition.
After hearing three of this year’s winners read our part of their work, she said: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve just had a taste of how brilliant these young writers are.
Camilla Duchess of Cornwall drinks from a coconut as she attends a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the Ghana International Junior School
A souvenir! First Lady of Ghana Rebecca Akufo-Addo (left)laughs as the Duchess of Cornwall is presented with a drum by students at a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the Ghana International Schoo
Admiring the artwork! The Duchess of Cornwall visits an Asafo flag making stall during a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the Ghana International School
Sweet treat! First Lady of Ghana Rebecca Akufo-Addo and the Duchess of Cornwall pose with students while cutting a cake during a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the Ghana International School
The Duchess spoke about her passion for the written word as she gave a speech during The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019 launch at Ghana International School
‘We all very much hope that a record number of young people from all the 53 Commonwealth countries will be inspired to put pen to paper and enter next year’s competition.
‘As a passionate believer in the power of the written word I look forward, with huge anticipation, to reading the winning entries and presenting the awards at Buckingham Palace next year.’
Business meeting: The Prince of Wales at the Movenpick Hotel in Accra, Ghana, to discuss the cocoa industry
Tasty treat! The Duchess of Cornwall drinks from a coconut as she attends a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the Ghana International Junior School
Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall cut the cake at a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the Ghana International Junior School
‘As the proud Vice-Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, I’m delighted to be here today, on my first visit to your beautiful country, to launch The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition for 2019.
‘I can now reveal that this year’s subject is: A Connected Commonwealth – a fascinating topic and one which, I hope, will get your brains whirring.’
‘Last year, about 12,000 young writers sent in their stories, poems and essays and around 1,000 were from West Africa. So it’s a huge pleasure to see some of those winners amongst us today.
A warm welcome! Prince Charles was greeted with a giant portrait hanging outside the Young Entrepreneurs Event at the International Conference Centre, in Accra
Prince Charles was meanwhile attending a Young Entrepreneurs Event at the International Conference Centre, in Accra, Ghana with President Nana Akufo-Addo
Prince Chrles views a 3D printer as he attends a Young Entrepreneurs Event at the International Conference Centre, in Accra
The Cuhess of Cornwall who is president of WOW, which was founded in London, is set to meet with Ghanaian women in leadership positions
The Duchess looked in great spirits despite soaring temperatures as she began another busy day of engagements during the royal tour of West Africa
Earlier in the day, the Duchess who is President of the Women of the World Festival, met with Ghanaian women in leadership positions.
The Women of the World festival (WOW) is a global festival movement founded by Jude Kelly CBE in London in 2010.
It celebrates women and girls and strives to find ways to remove obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Charles and Camilla are on a four-day tour to strengthen trade relations with Ghana and support community projects.
Prince Charles, pictured at the International Conference Centre in Accra, will later give a speech acknowledging Britain’s role in the slave trade
Camilla was joined on stage by the First Lady of Ghana Rebecca Akufo-Addo (left) and British Vogue editor Edward Eninful at Ghana International School in Accra to launch the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019
The Duchess was all smiles as she unveiled a plaque marking her visit to Ghana International School to launch The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019
Pride! Camilla joined smiling students who received certificates for their entries to The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Earlier in the day, a jovial Charles joked with entrepreneurs as he was shown local produce, including cocoa and shea butter.
And he made a speech thanking Ghana for the ‘most special time’ he and Camilla have enjoyed.
‘We have been so deeply touched by the wonderfully warm welcome we have received wherever we have been. In fact so warm it’s taking some time for my blood to thin,’ he said.
Eager to learn! Prince Charles looked attentive as he chatted to cocoa and shea butter producers at an event for young entrepreneurs
The Duchess of Cornwall has joined her husband for an official tour of West Africa taking in Nigeria, Gambia and Ghana
Pleased to meet you! The Duchess of Cornwall was all smiles as she was introduced to influential Ghanaian women at the Women of the World Roundtable
A giant portrait of the Prince of Wales hanging outside the Young Entrepreneurs Event at the International Conference Centre, in Accra
The heir to the throne and his wife, Camilla, arrived in the West African country’s capital, Accra, on Friday night
The royal couple began their tour of West Africa in Gambia and head next to Nigeria.
They will return to London just in time for Prince Charles’ landmark 70th birthday on November 14.
Prince Charles’ speech at the International Conference Centre in Ghana
Mr. President, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me particular pleasure to be able to speak to all of you this morning and apart from anything else to be back in Ghana after all these years. My wife and I have had the most special time in the country here over the past few days and we have been so deeply touched by the wonderfully warm welcome we have received wherever we have been. In fact so warm it’s taking some time for my blood to thin.
And I can scarcely believe that so much time has passed since I first set foot in this fascinating land back in 1977 when, believe it or not, I was only twenty-eight years old and Ghana, too, was young, having just completed her first two decades of independence.
Although I am afraid it has taken me far too long to return, I can assure you that I have been following Ghana’s story closely and, like so many other people, I have been profoundly impressed by the remarkable course that Ghana has taken.
Over these past years, your country, ladies and gentlemen torment if I may say so, has become an example to other nations. It has given its citizens stability and security, with strong democratic institutions, free and fair elections and the peaceful transition of power, in a vibrant multi-party, multi-faith democracy. At the same time, Ghana’s civil society has thrived and its N.G.O.s, its trades unions and professional associations are now among the most active and engaged in the region. I know, too, that Ghana’s traditional leaders – some of whom, including the Asantehene and Okyenhene, I have had the great pleasure of meeting again on this visit – continue to have a vital and influential voice in your national discourse.
Underpinning all of this, it seems to me, are Ghana’s deeply-held values of tolerance and inclusion which are embedded in your traditional culture and enshrined in your constitutional protection of free speech and freedom of religious expression. While, elsewhere, diversity has fuelled division and conflict, in Ghana it has been an enduring source of strength and national pride.
Ghana has also become a force for good in the world. For over fifty years she has made a much-valued contribution to United Nations Peace-keeping operations, with Ghanaian armed servicemen and women, police officers and civilians making a vital difference to the maintenance of international peace and security and helping to create the conditions for sustainable development in countries stricken by conflict.
Here, Mr. President, if I may, I would like to take the opportunity to pay a special tribute to the memory of that proud son of Ghana, Mr. Kofi Annan, whose recent loss has been so keenly felt by people throughout this country and indeed across the World. I had the particular pleasure of meeting Mr. Annan on numerous occasions, and have the greatest respect for his moral conviction, his strong sense of justice and his quiet determination to confront the world’s most urgent challenges. He will long be remembered by all those who knew him, and by countless others whose lives he touched.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, the histories of our two nations are, I know, closely intertwined, and while today we enjoy shared opportunity, we can never forget that our past has sometimes borne witness to tragedy and loss and, at times, profound injustice. At Osu Castle on Saturday, it was especially important to me – as indeed it was on my first visit there forty-one years ago – that I should acknowledge the most painful chapter of Ghana’s relations with the nations of Europe, including the United Kingdom. The appalling atrocity of the slave trade, and the unimaginable suffering it caused, left an indelible stain on the history of our world. While Britain can be proud that it later led the way in the abolition of this shameful trade, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that the abject horror of slavery is never forgotten, that we abhor the existence of modern slavery and that we robustly promote and defend the values which today make it incomprehensible, to most of us, that human beings could ever treat each other with such utter inhumanity.
At other points in our history, our two nations have suffered and toiled alongside each other. At the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on Friday afternoon, I was honoured to join you, Mr. President, in remembering the bravery and sacrifice of troops from Ghana, and from across West Africa, who made such a vital contribution in the First and Second World Wars. In the First World War alone, a staggering 200,000 soldiers from West Africa supported the Allied effort and 30,000 of them lost their lives. During the Second World War, some 65,000 Ghanaians served in the Royal West African Frontier Force, in operational theatres stretching from East Africa to modern day Burma. I need hardly say, therefore, how special it was for my wife and I to meet some of those surviving veterans during this visit.
Now as we mark the Centenary next month of the end of the First World War, it is so very important that we remember all those who fought – wherever they came from and wherever they served – and that we honour the immense sacrifice that so many of them made.
Today, Ladies and Gentlemen, the United Kingdom and Ghana enjoy a dynamic partnership of equals, anchored in our shared experience but looking to a shared future. We share the same language, the same legal system, the same values – and a strong trading relationship that is worth over one billion dollars.
You will not be surprised to hear that I have been very pleased to see, over these past few days, the many ways in which the United Kingdom has been helping to make a difference in Ghana whether through the private, government or N.G.O. sectors. But this is a two-way relationship, and the influence of Ghana, and of people of Ghanaian heritage, in the United Kingdom is extensive and vital too – whether in the arts, fashion, music, technology, business, academia or, of course, sport.
There is, it seems to me, no greater example and demonstration of the bond between our two countries than the 250,000 men and women of Ghanaian descent who live in the United Kingdom and make such an indispensable contribution to our society and our economy.
Many of these tremendously successful individuals are both British and Ghanaian and play active roles in the lives of both our countries. They act as a bridge between us, across which travel the ideas, creativity and talent that fuel our shared prosperity and help shape our identity.
Shortly before we set off on this Tour, my wife and I were delighted to host a Reception, at St. James’s Palace in London, to celebrate the contribution to British life of the West African diaspora communities in the United Kingdom. We were joined by many famous faces and leaders in their fields, but also by nurses, police officers, armed forces personnel, teachers and other men and women who make such an indescribable difference to our country.
These diaspora communities – as with the British Asian communities, or those whose roots are in the Caribbean – are one of our contemporary society’s greatest assets – and one in which I have nothing but the most enormous pride. They offer a powerful demonstration of Britain’s place within our remarkable Commonwealth family, of the shared opportunities it represents, and of everything that binds us together in a changing world.
Next year of course we will celebrate the Commonwealth’s seventieth birthday. The Commonwealth, therefore, is just a few months younger than I am myself and has lasted a great deal better – as you can probably see for yourself ladies and gentlemen – and therefore so has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember. Over these seven decades, the Commonwealth has built upon its firm foundation of shared experience and common values to strive for a more prosperous and more secure future for the 2.4 billion people who call the Commonwealth home. The past seventy years have brought global change on an unprecedented scale, with challenges and opportunities that could never have been anticipated in 1949. All the while, the Commonwealth has been a constant – a common point of reference by which its members have navigated the ever-changing tides of an uncertain world.
Ghana has played an active and influential role in the Commonwealth ever since becoming, in 1957, the first newly independent African country to join. President Kwame Nkrumah, of whom I have vivid memories of meeting when he visited the U.K. in the 1960’s, played a key role in the forced withdrawal of apartheid South Africa from the Commonwealth in 1961 and, later, was instrumental in the establishment of the Commonwealth Secretariat in 1965.
Today, Ghana continues to play an influential role. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April, during which I had the great pleasure of sitting next to you, Mr. President, at The Queen’s Banquet, Ghana lent its voice to commitments, among other things, on education, gender equality, clean oceans, cyber security and more.
I know, Mr. President, that you share my determination that the Commonwealth should strive for renewed relevance in the lives of its citizens and should draw upon its unparalleled networks of professional expertise to offer practical solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time, many of which are increasingly deep-seated and deeply integrated.
No issue is more pressing, it seems to me, than that of climate change.The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which provided stark and alarming evidence that even 1.5 degrees of warming will mean catastrophic damage to the planet’s ecosystems, sent a clear signal that we must all surely heed. The impact of such alarmingly dangerous climate change is, of course, a really major risk multiplier for it exacerbates the increasing fragility of the world’s natural capital, on which we are all totally dependent and the resilience of which has been substantially undermined by decades of over-exploitation.
I am afraid, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the impacts of climate change global warming are already being felt by far too many Commonwealth citizens, not least through the devastation that is wrought, ever more frequently, by the terrifying hurricanes and cyclones to which our small island states, in particular, are so horrifyingly vulnerable. In November last year I visited the Caribbean islands of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and the British Virgin Islands, after previously visiting Malaysia Singapore and Indonesia, to show my support to those communities as they struggled with the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria; and earlier this year, I visited Vanuatu, in the Pacific, to see how they were recovering from Cyclone Pam, which wreaked havoc across that archipelago. Although, in each of these island states, I encountered a strength of spirit and resilience that was profoundly humbling, with the existential threat of climate-induced catastrophe growing ever more real, one has to wonder what the future holds.
I know, of course, that the effects of climate change are being felt every day by people across this continent as well, with increasingly erratic weather patterns representing a growing threat to food security and triggering the mass migration of millions of people. It is profoundly worrying, for instance, that Lake Chad is today just one tenth the size it was only a few decades ago – a catastrophic shrinkage which, combined with the Southward spread of the Sahara desert, is displacing whole populations and fuelling bitter conflict.
With such different parts of the Commonwealth, thousands and thousands of miles apart, facing such depressingly similar challenges, there is, it seems to me, tremendous potential for the Commonwealth to share best practice and co-ordinate its response to these kinds of disasters. Earlier this year in Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, I visited the highly impressive National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, which deploys world-class medical teams and facilities in rapid response to disasters overseas, on behalf of the Australian Government. To my mind, at least, it offered a compelling example of the sort of co-ordinated response that could be replicated elsewhere in the Commonwealth to offer practical assistance to people in their times of greatest need.
Although, tragically, it is essential that we prepare for the effects of climate-induced disasters in this way, we must, at the same time, work together to tackle the underlying causes – which surely means, among other things, establishing a proper price for carbon and addressing the global problem of perverse subsidy regimes and the continuing lack of the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
In addressing the fundamental and most pressing challenges that our planet faces, I have long felt – for what it is worth – that this can be done, at least in part, by developing a truly circular economy in which we design products so that little or nothing is wasted in recycling and put in place the planning systems, infrastructure and incentives to ensure that every effort is made to minimise our environmental impact.
It is becoming evident that not following such an approach has disastrous consequences, as is witnessed by the fact that 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the Ocean every year, that soon there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the sea, and that the dead zones in the Ocean, now numbering over 400, are continuing to grow.
Given this, ladies and gentlemen surely, surely we must find a way to protect and conserve our ocean and develop a truly sustainable circular approach to the Blue Economy, as we must to the rest of our economic activities? Such an approach will not only protect our eco-systems but will also generate new jobs and will stimulate economic growth.
Now I know you agree, Mr. President, that Ghana can play a vital role in all of this, helping to lead the way in Africa and, indeed, in the Commonwealth at large. In this regard, I was delighted to see that Ghana has joined the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Blue Ocean Economy, which is co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Norway and the President of Palau, with the World Resources Institute, of which I recently became Patron, providing the Secretariat.
I am utterly convinced of the potential for the Commonwealth to be part of the solution to these challenges and the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, announced at this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, is an important example of how it can do so. The Alliance brings together Commonwealth countries around a commitment to preventing plastic entering the marine environment. A key part of the Alliance is the Global Plastics Action Partnership, established by the World Economic Forum and World Resources Institute, as a global public-private delivery mechanism to tackle the terrible plastic pollution of our rivers, deltas and oceans. I am delighted, therefore, that Ghana has been included among the first three country beneficiaries, alongside Indonesia and Vanuatu.
In the same way that taking an integrated approach to Ocean issues – resolving the problems of wastage, plastics, over-fishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the absence of adequate Marine Protected Areas, is vital to protect the Ocean’s health, so too, it seems to me, is an integrated landscape approach to the rural economy in order to protect our ecological, social and economic security. And, in this regard, I can only applaud Ghana’s leadership on the Cocoa and Forest Initiative, the inaugural meeting of which I was happy to host, with my then International Sustainability Unit in London last year, and am shortly to attend a follow-up meeting after I’ve finished this speech. As I am sure you are more aware than ever, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are entering the era of a ‘triple threat’ – that is to say one where the effects of climate change, rapid urbanisation, unsustainable population growth and natural resource depletion are compounding to make the perfect storm.
It is already beyond most people’s comprehension that in the last twenty-five years the number of people living in towns and cities has almost doubled. But by the year 2050, the world’s urban population is projected to increase by an additional 2.3 billion people – which in context is the total current population of the Commonwealth.
Even more concerning is that on current trends, this doubling of the world’s urban population would result in a tripling of the world’s urban footprint – placing enormous strains on ecosystems and directly challenging the carbon reduction strategies that are so vital in the context of climate change. Across the Commonwealth the impact of these frightening trends is, as I’ve said, only, too evident, with urban sprawl and informal settlement dislocating millions of people from basic services and jobs.
Recent studies show that in the Commonwealth urban growth will be greatest in the places with least professional resource to plan for it – which is critical if it is to be sustainable. Invariably, current tools and policies for planning urban settlements are just not rapid enough to get ahead of the rate of urban development.
And unless our growing towns and cities are planned, even at the most basic level, to protect main arterial routes, farmland and natural ecosystems, then we will not realise the potential benefits of economic growth and the opportunity that sustainably planned urban expansion can undoubtedly deliver. My own Foundation therefore has been working with the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, the Commonwealth Association of Planners and Commonwealth Association of Architects to develop an online toolkit that will help shape growth in secondary cities, where most of the projected urbanisation is expected to occur. Given the challenges in the Commonwealth to address this rapid urbanisation – across sub-Saharan Africa, India and through to the small Island States – there is also a huge opportunity through the diversity of the Commonwealth to share tools, techniques and best practice for planning walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income human settlements that can play such a vital role in the reduction of poverty, mitigation of the impacts of climate change and reversing damage to finite ecosystems.
There are, it seems to me, Ladies and Gentlemen, so many ways in which the Commonwealth can draw on its unparalleled store of talent and professional expertise, and sheer diversity of experience, to find solutions to the enormous challenges we face, and seize the opportunities from which we can all benefit. An astonishing sixty per cent of the Commonwealth’s two billion citizens are now under the age of thirty – the potential, therefore, is immense, but so are the risks – especially from unemployment and alienation, we therefore need to empower young people through personal development programmes, skills-training and assistance with business enterprise development. In all of this lies tremendous opportunity for the people of this continent.
Every young person, in Ghana just as in the U.K., has the potential to make a difference in their communities and to their country. Helping young people to unlock their potential is something to which I know you are committed, Mr. President. In the United Kingdom I set up my Prince’s Trust some forty-two years ago and, since then, it has helped nearly a million young people to get into jobs, education and training or to start their own enterprise and to create brighter futures for themselves and those around them. Now, through Prince’s Trust International, we are taking the experience and expertise that my Trust has built up since 1976 and, with local partners, are helping to change young lives in other parts of the world. I am therefore delighted to be able to announce that Prince’s Trust International is now looking to bring their programmes to Africa for the first time, starting here in Ghana. It will, I hope, offer a further connection between our countries, in some small way, at least, whereby we can contribute to your priority, Mr. President, of fuelling youth employment and diversified economic growth.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is clear to me that the Commonwealth remains as vital today, as it has ever been. It brings us together, building bridges between our governments and our people, and offering the practical means to work together for a better future. In such an uncertain and changing world, none of us can know what kind of a planet our grandchildren, and great grandchildren, will inhabit, but the Commonwealth, it seems to me, offers us a vital mechanism to help ensure that it is not poisoned and polluted and that its vitality is not compromised.
Therefore, we owe it to them – and to every one of our 2.3 billion fellow Commonwealth citizens – to renew and strengthen the partnerships between us, and use them to give life to the aspirations of each generation. I have nothing but the greatest confidence that Ghana will play an essential part in that, just as it always has, and that the bonds between our countries will remain strong and indispensable to us all.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen
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