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Day 1: The Prince and The Duchess arrive in India

6th November 2013

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall take part in a ceremony near the River Ganges

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall take part in a ceremony near the River Ganges

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A garland of flowers fit for two was bestowed on The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall as India welcomed the Royal Couple with a sacred ceremony on the banks of the River Ganges.

The red and white floral tribute was hung around the shoulders of The Prince and The Duchess, symbolically joining Their Royal Highnesses together.

The ritual took place in the holy Hindu city of Rishikesh where The Beatles studied transcendental meditation in 1968.


The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall take part in a ceremony near the River Ganges

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall take part in a ceremony near the River Ganges

View Album (5 images)

The Prince, who is touring India over nine days, led his wife by the hand to the shore of the famous river where a Hindu service was performed which had at its heart the Aarti ceremony.

It is performed by devotees every sunset who wave oil lamps burning ghee - a symbolic thank you to God for lighting the world.

The Prince and The Duchess were welcomed by the Hindu guru Swami Chidanand and his leading disciple Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, both dressed in orange robes, who draped a garland of marigold blooms around their necks and strings of beads.

With the foothills of the Himalayans looming in the distance, The Prince told gathered trainee priests and their leaders: "It's a particular joy to join you here on the banks of the Ganges this evening because it is, above all else, my first visit to the Ganges and so from that point of view it is a very special occasion for both myself and my wife.

"But we also wanted just to stress how deeply we felt for all those people who suffered so dreadfully as a result of the awful floods in June - our thoughts and prayers were so much with those families who have had to suffer the appalling catastrophe."

The devastating floods are estimated to have killed 5,500 people with many deaths in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, the first stop on Their Royal Highnesses' tour, and forced tens of thousands to be evacuated during the summer.

The guru has been involved in a project to help eradicate pollution in the Ganges, gathering together scientists, engineers and activists to help clean the waters and riverbanks.

The Prince went on to praise the Swami for his "deep understanding of working in harmony with nature".

The Heir to The Throne added: "It seems to me the key to our future is to rediscover our connections with nature, for too long we seem to have ignored the services that nature provides us."

The Prince went on to highlight how his grandson Prince George, born in July, had reinforced his view on working to help preserve the planet:  "And now that I've just recently become a grandfather, I think it means even more when you have a grandchild to think of their future and all the futures of other grandchildren around the world, we owe them I think something a great deal better for their futures as well."

The couple arrived by boat travelling across the fast flowing pale green waters of the Ganges that has been a sacred to river for thousands of years.

They were led along its banks and after removing their shoes sat between the Swami and his chief disciple in front of a fire with novice priests around them.

An offering of herbs, seeds and petals was made to the fire by the Royal Couple for world peace and environmental preservation as ancient Verdic prayers were said.

A water blessing ceremony followed with water from the Ganges poured back to its source by The Prince and The Duchess who both then observed two minutes silence for the victims of the flood.

During the Aarti ritual the Royal Couple held a four tiered brass lamp and waved it in circles.

When the Beatles stayed at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, on the outskirts of Rishikesh, they wrote many of the songs for their famous white album.

They are likely to have seen a similar event to the Aarti ceremony according to the Swami's chief disciple, she said: "They almost definitely would have witnessed the fire ceremony, it's one of the most traditional ceremonies in the Hindu tradition."

The Prince and The Duchess will travel the length and breadth of the Asian country to experience its diverse people and cultures, celebrate the achievements of leading individuals and highlight the work of some of the heir to the throne's own organisations.

The Duchess will also be carrying out a number of solo engagements focusing on her interests of literacy, osteoporosis and equestrianism.

The Prince of Wales will turn 65 during his Autumn tour and will celebrate the milestone the day before he hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on behalf of The Queen in Sri Lanka.

In a speech made at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad in 2000, titled The Commonwealth In The New Millennium, the prince described the uniqueness and relevance of the Commonwealth.

He said: "I have long had an instinctive sense of the value of the Commonwealth. It encourages and celebrates cultural diversity and makes no attempt to homogenise.''


The Prince added: "For me, the Commonwealth is something rather special and worth cherishing. It is as old as I am, and so has been present throughout my life, as something to which the Queen and other members of my family attach great value."

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall's India visit: Further details released

Published on 30th October 2013

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will make a nine day visit to India Wednesday 6 - Thursday 14 November before moving on to Sri Lanka where The Prince will represent Her Majesty The Queen at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

In their most extensive visit to India to date, Their Royal Highnesses will undertake a broad range of engagements to promote the strong UK-India partnership in key areas such as conservation, education, growing business links, women’s empowerment and training. They will also have the opportunity to celebrate religious diversity, creativity and the vibrant individual family ties between the two countries. The Royal itinerary includes official calls on both the President and Vice President of India, meetings with senior business leaders in Mumbai, and receptions for civic, business and cultural leaders in all the major locations of the tour: Dehradun, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kochi.

Their Royal Highnesses will visit a world-leading inoculation factory in Pune, a ground-breaking mobile crèche in Mumbai and one of the world’s largest Hindu temples in New Delhi. They will also mark Remembrance Sunday while in India. The programme includes a visit to the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth in Kochi, a boat trip through a mangrove conservation area in Mumbai and visits to three world renowned institutions in Dehradun: The Indian Military Academy, The Forest Research Institute and the Doon School, where local women are being helped to finance their own self-employment proj ...

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