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Brazil and Chile Royal Visit: Day Five

27th June 2014

Prince Harry visits a kindergarten school in Santiago

Prince Harry visits a kindergarten school in Santiago

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Prince Harry found himself right at home when he played with a group of toddlers and children at a Chilean kindergarten today.

The Prince, who arrived in Chile last night for an official three-day visit, cuddled eight-month-old Matias Gonzalez, and was so smitten with the baby he said: "Who does this little one one belong to? Otherwise I'll take him home."

The children were dressed in traditional Mapuche Indian costumes - ponchos and headbands for the boys; dresses, ribbons and headdresses for the girls.

Prince Harry was shown around by head-teacher Jimena Perez who explained they had just celebrated the Indian New Year when the Mapuche community perform ceremonies to ensure a good harvest.

Mrs Perez said: "Prince Harry was so caring with the children - he picked them up, he played with them and they loved it. He treated them like they were his own.

"He was so spontaneous and the way he interacted with one of our little girls who had Down's Syndrome was just beautiful."

Prince Harry was first shown some of the traditional musical instruments used in Mapuche ceremonies - and tried as best he could to blow on a "trutuka" horn.

As he turned pink with the effort, he said: "Oh dear, that's not great. What's it supposed to sound like? It's like a Vuvuzela with a knot tied in it."

He then visited one of the classrooms at the Sagrada Familia Kindergarten in Santiago, which takes 179 children from three months to four years old from the more disadvantaged families of the local Pudahuel area.

The three-year-olds were making bowls out of clay but Prince Harry's initial effort was no better than theirs.

Laughing he appealed for assistance "You've got to help me here."


Prince Harry visits a kindergarten school in Santiago

Prince Harry visits a kindergarten school in Santiago

View Album (5 images)

The next class was 11 months to two years, and Prince Harry took his jacket off to sit on the floor and sing along with them. He said, laughing: "Everyone wants to eat the musical instruments."

One little girl took a particular shine to The Prince - three-year-old Francisca Paso who stood up to give him a kiss.

She then set about trying to undo his shoe laces and Prince Harry said: "Shouldn't you be trying to tie them up?" then added as she prised them off "Ah, now she's after my socks."

In the third classroom he met children who were doing some weaving.

Another little girl could not take her eyes off The Prince and he joked: "She's looking at me very suspiciously, is it because I have red hair?

"I've never been stared at quite so much - I bet she's thinking why is this redhead in my classroom?"

Prince Harry was then treated to a dance performance outside.

The children performed various Mapuche dances - the girls waving machi leaves which are used to make medicine and for good health and prosperity; the boys playing hockey with "palin" sticks.

Afterwards he said: "The dancing was amazing, although my hockey wasn't so good.

"This is a culture that could have been lost so it's really important that it is saved."

Earlier in the day, The Prince had attended a wreath laying ceremony at the monument of Chile's Founding Father Bernado O'Higgins in the Plaza de la Ciudadania (People's Square) before going on to meet President Michelle Bachele at La Moneda Presidential Palace.

The kindergarten school Prince Harry visited is managed by the Integra Foundation ”“ one of the President's official Foundations.

This evening, Prince Harry will attend The Queen's Birthday Party  at the British Ambassador's residence in Santiago. At the reception will be around 500 guests who hail from business, politics, diplomacy and the Armed Forces, as well as representatives of the British community in Chile and the Chilean Paralympic athletes.

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