PHOTOS & VIDEO: Hundreds turn out as Prince Charles and Camilla visit Braunton
Hundreds of schoolchildren and residents waved flags and cheered as the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Braunton this morning.
Police closed Caen Street and cordoned off one side of the pavement to allow the royals to walk up the road and greet those eagerly awaiting their arrival.
The high profile visit came following a personal request from Prince Charles to visit the village and offer his support after it was hit by severe flooding in December.
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Schoolchildren cheered as the couple arrived in Caen Street by car at 10.50am having flown from London to RMB Chivenor on what was the first leg of their Devon tour.
While security was tight and Caen Street was closed to traffic, the royal couple impressed everyone with their genuine warmth and down-to-earth approach.
Flags, hats and homemade banners were in abundance and excited schoolchildren were in awe when the royal couple took the time to shake their hands and talk to them.
One group of well-wishers surprised the next in line to the throne with a “Welcome Prince Charming” banner – something he joked must have been intended for someone else. Another banner read “I love our Royal family”.
Camilla wore a black and red paisley print Anna Valentine dress, red woolly coat and LK Bennet boots during her visit.
VIDEO: The Duchess of Cornwall greeting children in Caen Street in Braunton this morning:
Prince Charles and Camilla went out of their way to talk to local residents and personally visited some of the worst businesses affected in Caen Street, some of which are still in the throes of building work and may not reopen for several weeks.
Among the businesses they visited were Braunton News, Mark Adams' Opticians, The London Inn pub, Copy Catz and At One Cafe Bistro.
VIDEO: The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall wave to the jubilant crowd as they arrive at Braunton News in Caen Street:
VIDEO: Prince Charles arriving at The London Inn pub ahead of meeting the owners today:
After the walkabout, the royals made their way by car along the short distance to Braunton Parish Hall where they were greeted by more jubilant crowds.
They were welcomed at a special reception at the parish hall where more than 60 business folk, emergency services personnel, local dignitaries and members of the community had gathered ahead of their arrival.
The Prince and Duchess parted while they individually greeted the various groups, which gathered in small circles in the hall underneath a slideshow displaying photographs of the village's flooding.
VIDEO: Prince Charles speaking with local dignitaries and members of the community in Braunton Parish Hall:
Chairman of Braunton Parish Council Liz Spear said: “Everyone said he (Prince Charles) would make me feel at ease and it’s true. He was really down-to-earth and genuinely concerned for the businesses and residents. And it made me feel very honoured that he chose to come to Braunton.”
Councillor Marguerite Shapland said Prince Charles was very interested in the local situation.
She said: “He knew a lot about what had happened and really knew what they had gone through.”
Schoolgirl Phoebe Hutchings, 11, from Caen Primary School, presented the Duchess with a bouquet of flowers before the royal couple departed at 12.12pm.
Phoebe, who was chosen to present Camilla with a posy of flowers due to her recent fundraising efforts, described it as a “very special day”.
She has raised more than £50 for a Cerebral Palsy charity by selling pink ribbons after being inspired by April Jones’ disappearance in Wales last year.
Finn McAuley, 11 and also from Caen Primary School, was also chosen to meet to the royals for his part in organising fundraising activities at the school, including themed fancy dress days for Red Nose Day and Children In Need. He said he was “really happy” to meet the Prince and Duchess.
Headteacher Karen Crutchfield, who presented the Duchess with a book of poetry written by pupils at the school, thought it was great the village was publicly recognised.
She said: “We had severe flooding at the school so we were hit hard. It is very special for us and everyone living in the village.
“It’s really lovely that we have been acknowledged. Camilla spoke to me at length. I know she likes poetry and I gave her a book of poetry the children had written. I hope she looks at it; she said she would read it!”
The royal couple were then waved off by members of the public as their car headed back towards Chivenor, where they were due to board a helicopter and fly down to Plymouth for their next engagement.