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The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visit Kennington

24th January 2013

Nicholas Thompson, who is studying a diploma in Historic Carving, shows a plaster portrait bust to The Duchess

Nicholas Thompson, who is studying a diploma in Historic Carving, shows a plaster portrait bust to The Duchess

Talented stone and wood carvers had The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall marvelling at their talents in south London today.

Their Royal Highnesses met the artisans as they toured a neighbourhood which has close connections with The Prince's Duchy of Cornwall estate.

The sight of a female head made by trainee wood and stone carver Nicholas Thompson had The Duchess transfixed.

The Duchess touched the white plaster piece showing a model called Zoe and the pair joked about the artwork's broken right ear.

Mr Thompson is one of around 230 people enrolled at the City & Guilds of London Art School in Kennington, south London. The 31-year-old student, who moved to the UK from his homeland Canada three years ago, said: "I found my way here through historic building conservation. "I was writing conservation reports, which was good but I was bored. I wanted to touch these buildings and fix them with my hands."

Staff and students from the school created the impressive classical sculptures that decorated Her Majesty The Queen's royal barge used in last summer's Diamond Jubilee celebrations on the River Thames.

The art institution has been able to increase the number of people it teaches after moving into an empty property, neighbouring its site, owned by The Prince's Duchy estate.

His Royal Highness is a keen supporter of traditional crafts and has a number of charities that work to support the arts.

The estate, which is owned by The Duchy of Cornwall and consists of investments and land - including the Oval cricket ground, funds the public, charitable and private activities of The Prince and his family.