His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the heir to the British throne, and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall paid a brief visit to Brunei on Thursday as part of their four-nation Commonwealth tour.
Their Royal Highnesses were in the sultanate to convey their congratulations to Brunei’s monarch on his Golden Jubilee, which fell on October 5.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, is the second-longest reigning monarch in the world after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
During the three-hour visit to the sultanate, the royal couple took tea at the Sultan’s residence, Istana Nurul Iman, and also met with members of the British and Gurkha community at Istana Edinburgh.
Flying in from Singapore, Prince Charles and Camila were welcomed at Brunei International Airport by HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, together with his wife HRH Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah.
As they arrived at Istana Edinburgh, the British royals were greeted by officers of the Second Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles and presented with red, green and black ‘malla’ garlands .
The Gurkha regiment has been in Brunei since the 1960s, the only British garrison stationed outside the UK.
Their Royal Highnesses then met and mingled with members of the British and Gurkha communities in Brunei, as well as staff of the British High Commission.
Executive Principal of International School Brunei, Dr Steven Geraghty, said more than 50 British students had come to the palace to greet the royals.
“Mostly students from Years 4 to 8 — at first, they turned to mice they were so shy, but then they became really excited, they loved it.”
Prince Charles also presented a long-service award to Virgilio Mercurio Baluyot, a driver for the High Commission for more than 25 years.
“I am very happy and honoured to accept this award, having met the Prince of Wales in Brunei three times,” he said. “I will never forget this moment, and have sent photos to my family in the Philippines.”
Following the meet-and-greet, Their Royal Highnesses proceeded to Istana Nurul Iman where were received in an audience by His Majesty the Sultan and Her Majesty Duli Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha.
Their Majesties also hosted an afternoon tea for the Their Royal Highnesses at the palace, before their departure to Malaysia at 4.30pm.
“This visit from Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall is a very clear symbol of the enduring strength of the relationship between our two countries, and of the personal friendship between our monarchies,” said British High Commissioner Richard Lindsay.
“This was a short, but meaningful visit. HRH congratulated His Majesty on his Golden Jubilee and they had an excellent private discussion. The warmth of the personal relationship between the Prince of Wales and His Majesty; and between the Duchess of Cornwall and the Raja Isteri was very evident throughout.”
Their Royal Highnesses’ visit, which is at the request of the British government, “will celebrate the UK’s partnership with these Commonwealth nations on shared priorities in advance of the Commonwealth Summit in London in April 2018”, said Clarence House in a statement.
After visiting Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia, the royal couple will end their tour in India.
The Prince of Wales first visited Brunei in 1984 to represent Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of Brunei’s independence. He last visited the sultanate with the Duchess of Cornwall in 2008.
This story was last updated on November 3 at 5.05pm.