British Royals Depart After Enjoyable Visit To PNG

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Prince Charles meets old friends, leaves with fond memories

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 6, 2012) – Papua New Guinea yesterday gave Their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall an emotional farewell.

The Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla left the shores of Papua New Guinea with "immense regret, but also with the shouts of welcome ringing in our ears," as Prince Charles echoed on Sunday night during the farewell dinner hosted by the Governor-General.

And to make the trip even more emotional, Prince Charles bade farewell to a PNG friend Fr. Lucas Begiji, a friend he met at the Anglican Martyrs Memorial High School for boys in 1966 in Northern Province when he was 18, and one who hosted him in his Sefoa garden house for two nights.

They hugged, both shed some tears and Prince Charles was presented a black and white picture which he showed to his wife Camilla of them both in front of their Garden House taken in 1966.

They are both 64 this year and still remember each other as best friends. But the Royal farewell yesterday at Jackson’s international airport was one that had Prince Charles fight back tears as he bade farewell to the people that were his "friends and hosts" for the last three days of their visit.

He was truly given the PNG taste with culture and its traditions, one he says he still remembers very well from his last three visits here.

Their Royal Highnesses ended their program by conducting two investitures (knighthoods) at Airways Hotel to Brown Bai, who will now be called Sir Brown Bai and George Constantinou who also would be addressed from now on as Sir George Constantinou.

Before the farewell dinner hosted by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio, Prince Charles bestowed the knighthood medals.

The Governor General and his wife Lady Esmie hosted the Diamond Jubilee Dinner for the Royal couple at Crowne Plaza where Prince Charles presented medals to the Governor General, Speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenuoc, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and leader of the Opposition Belden Namah.

Also at the official table was Sir Michael Somare, the country’s first Prime Minister at independence from Australia in 1975 when PNG joined the Commonwealth. Prince Charles spoke briefly at the farewell dinner, recalling his memories of PNG since 1966 when he first came as a student from Geelong school.

"I first came to Papua New Guinea almost 50 years ago, which worried me greatly," he said. "I’d say there are an awful lot of people, for instance in Australia, who have no idea I went to school there in 1966. Such are the things one has to suffer when you get older.

"Looking at the list of people that I was going to meet when I came to PNG, quite a large proportion of ministers in the government here were only about one or two years old when I came here in 1966."

"The welcome we received was so wonderfully warm and friendly and special that I promise you we shall leave here tomorrow with immense regret, but also with the shouts of welcome ringing in our ears."

Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio told the assembled guests Queen Elizabeth was an important unifying figure for the 37-year-old nation.

"Her Majesty’s 60-year reign is longer than the average life span of Papua New Guineans and we have enjoyed nationhood. Her Majesty remains as a source of unity for our diverse nation."

PM O’Neill, fare welled the Royal couple at Crowne Plaza yesterday after they attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Remembrance Park at Ela Beach.

A farewell Royal parade was held in honor of Their Highnesses and Prince Charles made his last inspection of the Guard of Honour and a General Salute before walking the Red Carpet back to the awaiting RAAF plane.

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