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Opening comments by Simon Martin, Deputy Private Secretary for The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall regarding Their Royal Highnesses' upcoming visit to Mexico and Colombia

Published on 3rd October 2014

Their Royal Highnesses will be visiting Colombia and Mexico from the 28th October to the 5th November. They have received invitations from President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. I think it's fair to say that the fact that the British Government has asked them to accept these invitations and conduct these visits now is a sign of the importance that it attaches to relations in with these two countries. They are economically dynamic and politically influential Latin American countries and Kate Smith who is the Director for the Americas of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is going to enlarge on that a little later.

The Prince and The Duchess are both very much looking forward to these two visits. His Royal Highness has visited Mexico four times before in an official capacity but the last time was in 2002 and he is looking forward to returning to Mexico after twelve years. Her Royal Highness has visited Mexico privately but not officially. In the case of Colombia, The Prince was there in the 1970s as a naval officer but has not been back since then. Her Royal Highness has never visited Colombia. So they're looking forward to seeing something of the diversity of both of these countries and meeting the warm and friendly people.

There is already a lot of enthusiasm publicly, and on the part of both Governments, about these two visits. We've had wonderful support from both Governments and expect there to be a great deal of interaction with people and the Governments of both countries.

The programme will highlight and promote the partnership that already exists between Britain and both Colombia and Mexico in areas including sustainability and combatting climate change, expanding trade and investment, creating opportunities for young people, responsible business, historical and cultural links and supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence. Also, we'll highlight defence links and the fight against drugs and crime.
The visit will start in Colombia where Their Royal Highnesses will arrive in Bogota on the 28th October.

The following day there will be a formal official welcome at the Casa de Nariño, the Presidential Palace in Bogota. Their Royal Highnesses will have meetings with the President and First Lady and in the evening there will be a banquet. Although this is not a State Visit, the dinner is described as a State Dinner at the Presidential Palace.
Additionally in Bogota, Their Royal Highnesses' programme will focus on traditional arts and crafts, historical architecture of beautiful Bogota. There will be a very vibrant fair at the residence of the British Ambassador, which will highlight some of the key food and craft traditions from around the country. There will be a focus on wool. As many of you know The Prince is the Patron of the Campaign for Wool.

We are hoping that this will signify a link between the Campaign for Wool and the very important wool industry in Colombia. There will also be trade and investment aspects to this and an opportunity to celebrate the British Council's 75th anniversary in Colombia. Colombia is one of the first countries in which the British Council opened up all those years ago. You might be surprised to know that there's a big focus on rugby in this particular celebration of the British Council in Colombia.

An important part of Their Royal Highnesses' programme in Bogota will be to visit, with the President and the First Lady, the Centre for Peace, Memory and Reconciliation to remember the many victims of Colombia's long armed conflict. After that, which takes place on the second day in Bogota, Her Royal Highness will continue with engagements in and around Bogota. His Royal Highness has been invited to visit the Macarena National Park, which is in the south of the country, by His Excellency The President and we hope very much that The President will accompany him thereon that second day.

After that Their Royal Highnesses will move down to Cartagena. There is a major conference there on the Health of the Oceans, which we expect both The Prince of Wales and The President to speak at, it will be promoting sustainability in development of marine economies and will involve senior experts from a number of Colombia's Caribbean neighbours. Also Their Royal Highnesses will touch on the regional heritage of that part of Colombia and the programme there will conclude with a sunset ceremony on board HMS Argyll, which will be paying a visit to Cartagena at that time.

Cartagena is where the Colombia part of the programme will conclude and from there Their Royal Highnesses will move to Mexico on Sunday 2nd November, which is the Day of the Dead and a public holiday. Their Royal Highnesses will arrive and go straight to the town of Real del Monte. It's the place where the historic links between UK and Mexico are considered to have started with the arrival of Cornish miners in the early 19th Century.

They brought mining technologies from the tin industry in Cornwall together with the Cornish pasty and football. The programme there will highlight these important factors. The day of the dead, being when Mexicans in a very positive and colourful way remember friends and families who have passed on. Their Royal Highnesses will be able to visit the only known British WW1 memorial in the country, which is a memorial to Cornish immigrant who died on the Somme. They will also be able to see some of the extraordinary olfrenda, which are like decorated altars,  that are produced in order to celebrate the day of the dead.

In Mexico City on Monday 3rd November TRH will receive an official welcome by the President and the First Lady at the Presidential Palace and there will also be formal meetings. The President and the First Lady have kindly invited TRH to an official lunch. Also on that day will be a large event at the old college of San Ildephonso, which is a very historic building in the centre of Mexico City where will we see announced a bilateral programme entitled The UK in Mexico and Mexico in the UK, which will be launched throughout 2015 and will highlight collaboration in education, science and innovation, culture and in business. There will be a lot of other engagements in and around Mexico City. Her Royal Highness will be visiting an organisation, which focuses on helping victims of sexual violence among other things. His Royal Highness will visit an extraordinary farming system on the edge of the city, which dates back to Aztec times.

TRH will visit Campeche, in the South East of the country towards the Yucatan Peninsula. One of the highlights there could be a visit to the Edzna Mayan ruins, which have been restored to much of the glory they once had when they started in 400BC and meet some of those who have been involved in this impressive restoration project. There will also be other environmental elements and Her Royal Highness will be carrying out several engagements there also.

On the last day, TRH's tour will continue to be a tour of a number of different aspects and areas of Mexico. We’ll be going to Monterrey, which is the main business and industrial city in the North of Mexico, which will highlight the transformation of this former industrial city.

Amongst other things His Royal Highness will meet a number of Mexico's leading business people as well as Government agencies who are involved in developing Youth Entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.