Prince Charles pays first visit to Holy Island - GALLERY

PRINCE Charles walked in footsteps of his mother more than half a century ago as he enjoyed the historic and timeless charms of Holy Island yesterday.

The Prince of Wales tours the grounds of Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island
The Prince of Wales tours the grounds of Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island

PRINCE Charles walked in footsteps of his mother more than half a century ago as he enjoyed the historic and timeless charms of Holy Island yesterday.

The prince retraced the same route walked by the Queen, across the island’s village green and through its priory grounds, when she visited the coastal community in 1958.

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Yesterday’s visit – the prince’s first ever trip to Lindisfarne – was clearly one he had been planning and looking forward to for some time. He told National Trust staff at Lindisfarne Castle that it was “nice to finally get here”.

The visit re-awakened golden memories for a clutch of islanders, who were introduced to the prince 54 years after being among those who welcomed the Queen to their close-knit fishing community.

They included Margaret Devine, who presented the Queen with a bowl made from Holy Island clay in 1958, when she was head girl at the island school.

Yesterday Margaret, who lives in Newcastle, but still has a holiday home on the island where she was brought up by her parents James and Evelyn Drysdale, said she was as nervous as she had been all those years ago.

“I was chosen to present the Queen with a bowl and all the children at the school were given replicas with their names on them,” she said.

“I was introduced to Prince Charles today and told him about it. He said well done and asked me more about it. I was staying on the island this week anyway, but would have made a special trip up for the visit.

“The prince was very, very nice, had a lot of time for people and was interested in what we were telling him about his mother’s visit in 1958. I remember the Queen telling me at the time that she would love to bring her children here.”

The prince also met Thelma Dunn, who was also there in 1958 to greet the Queen. She said it had brought back good memories. She said: ”What I remember most about her visit was getting my father, John Tough, ready to meet her. He made and presented her with a fisherman’s basket.”

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Earlier the prince enjoyed stunning views out over the Farne Islands and the Northumberland coastline when he was given a guided tour of Lindisfarne Castle and taken to the Upper Battery.

Accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Martin Wharton, he met National Trust staff and volunteers, and was shown the 100-year-old, Gertrude Jekyll-designed walled garden by Lindisfarne Castle gardener Philippa Hodkinson.

Prince Charles’ visit to Holy Island also saw him officially open a new look-out tower giving panoramic views of the Northumberland coastline and inland to the Cheviot Hills.

The tower, which was once used as a look-out point by local coastguards, has been renovated and restored in a partnership involving Natural England and the Holy Island Community Development Trust, and will open to the public next month.

The prince also opened another new building on the approach to Lindisfarne Castle, the Window on Wild Lindisfarne information centre.

Later the prince slaked his thirst with a drink at the Olde Ship pub in Seahouses, where he joined delighted regulars and toasted them with half a Guinness.

He was welcomed by owner Alan Glen and his wife Jean, whose family has owned the harbourside inn for 102 years. Prince Charles was presented with a bottle of 14-year-old Speyside malt whisky as a memento of his visit.

The prince met crew members, officials and fundraisers at Seahouses RNLI lifeboat station, and also visited the town’s Swallow Fish smokery and shop.

Before heading for Alnwick Garden last night he also called in at the Ship Inn and its micro-brewery at Low Newton-by-the-Sea.

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