Prince Charles wears face covering in public for first time as he and Camilla visit Northern Ireland

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5 mins read

Prince Charles has worn a face covering in public for the first time as he and his wife Camilla carried out engagements in Northern Ireland.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall travelled to Belfast on Wednesday for a day of engagements, including thanking nurses for completing their training early to help with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pair were seen stepping out of their car with their coverings on, but were able to keep them off for the majority of their engagements.

Posting on Twitter, Clarence House explained the coverings were “made by seamstresses who have been supported through the Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme”.

The post added: “Charity Turquoise Mountain was set up by The Prince of Wales in 2006 to protect heritage at risk and to provide training and jobs around the world.”

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales wears a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic as he exits a car upon arrival to visit the Ulster Museum in Belfast on September 30, 2020. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo by IAN VOGLER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
It's the first time Charles has been seen in public in a face covering. (AFP)
Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (2L) and his wife Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (2R) meet with nurses and midwives from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, who transitioned early from Queen's University Belfast and the Open University, into clinical roles to support and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, during their visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast on September 30, 2020. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo by IAN VOGLER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla met nurses and midwives from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, who transitioned early from Queen's University Belfast and the Open University, into clinical roles to support and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and his wife Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall look at a throne made for a party to celebrate the end of filming of the TV series 'Game of Thrones', during their visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast on September 30, 2020. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo by IAN VOGLER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles joked 'frame of thrones' as he and Camilla stood by the throne. (AFP)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall thank nurses and midwives who transitioned early from their training to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic during a visit to the Ulster Museum on September 30, 2020 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian Vogler - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla thanked nurses and midwives while on the visit to the Ulster Museum. (WPA Pool)

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Camilla, 72, has previously been seen wearing coverings at her engagements, but this is the first time regulations have meant Charles, 71, needed to don one for a visit.

The couple spent the day at various spots in Belfast, including the Ulster Museum where they saw an exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale as well as a replica of the Iron Throne from the HBO show Game Of Thrones.

Game Of Thrones was filmed in the region.

As the Prince and the duchess posed next to the handwoven replica, Charles joked: “A frame of thrones.”

Before their museum tour, the couple spoke to nurses from the Open University and Queen’s University Belfast outside about their experiences during the pandemic.

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Fiona Pierce, who is going to qualify as a midwife at Royal Victoria Hospital, said: “It’s been a different end to the course than what we envisioned but we all met it with great enthusiasm and so excited to be recognised as being able to support the workforce.”

Bronach Best, who works in mental health, said: “I think the public have been great, there was one occasion when I was going shopping in my uniform, and met a mum with her son who was wearing a Spiderman costume, and she said, ‘look there is a real life hero there’.

“It’s nice to be appreciated.”

After touring the museum together, and meeting staff and volunteers who helped get it ready for its reopening after lockdown, the couple split up for separate engagements in the afternoon.

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (L) shares a joke with driver Stephen Taggart (R) during a visit to Henderson Foodservice's food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey, near Belfast, on September 30, 2020, where he thanked them for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and coping with the unprecedented demand they faced in recent months. (Photo by Niall Carson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NIALL CARSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles shares a joke with driver Stephen Taggart (R) during a visit to Henderson Foodservice's food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey. (AFP)
Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (C) reacts as he meets staff during a visit to Henderson Foodservice's food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey, near Belfast, on September 30, 2020, where he thanked them for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and coping with the unprecedented demand they faced in recent months. (Photo by Niall Carson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NIALL CARSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles thanked staff for their efforts and heard about how things had changed during the lockdown. (AFP)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales laughs with foodservice driver Stephen Taggart during a visit to the Henderson Group's food and grocery distribution centre in Newtownabbey on September 30, 2020 near Belfast, United Kingdom. During his visit, the prince thanked staff for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, during which they were met with unprecedented demand. (Photo by Niall Carson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles joked with the staff during the visit to one of the company's main warehouses. (WPA Pool)

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Camilla visited Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid where she met staff, supporters and service users.

The duchess has made the issue of domestic abuse a key part of her royal agenda, and has worked with several charities to break the stigma of talking about it, and help tackle it.

Northern Ireland is understood to have the worst rate of domestic violence of any European country and between April and June recorded the equivalent of 91 incidents a day . Camilla heard stories from survivors during the visit.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits  Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid on September 30, 2020 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tim Rooke/Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Duchess of Cornwall at the Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid. (WireImage)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits  Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid on September 30, 2020 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Camilla wore a green face covering for the trip to Northern Ireland. (WireImage)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits  Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid on September 30, 2020 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Camilla looks at wall art reminding the women they are strong and powerful before hearing some of their stories. (WireImage)

She listened to one woman, who stayed anonymous, who recounted her story of being trafficked to Northern Ireland from Somalia, whose former husband killed four of their six children.

She cried as she told her story and then thanked the duchess, saying: “Thank you, thank you for coming to listen. I am very very happy to see you today.”

Camilla smiled and said: “No thank you for telling us”, and made a point of going up to her afterwards and telling her: “You are so very, very brave.”

She also recommitted to doing all she can to help after expressing her sorrow at the increase in domestic violence cases during lockdown.

Asked if she thought it had got worse, she said: “I am afraid so. I would like to say it hasn’t but I am afraid to say that it has.

“We have all got to do our bit to try and break the corrosive silence around the issue. I certainly am trying to do everything I can.

“Like today, when we are allowed out, I would like to do more. The bravery of the women today was remarkable. I was incredibly moved.”

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the Belfast & Lisburn Women's Aid on September 30, 2020 in Belfast, United Kingdom. The Duchess of Cornwall, a long-standing supporter of domestic abuse charities in the UK and overseas, met staff, supporters and service users to hear of the challenges they have faced in recent months. (Photo by Tim Rooke - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla listened to survivors' stories during the afternoon visit to the charity. (WPA Pool)
Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wears a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic during a visit to the Belfast & Lisburn Women's Aid which supports those affected by domestic violence, in Belfast on September 30, 2020. (Photo by Tim Rooke / POOL / AFP) (Photo by TIM ROOKE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla's face mask was made by a charity set up by the Prince of Wales in 2006. (AFP)

Meanwhile, Charles visited Henderson Foodservice in Co Antrim, to thank staff for keeping stores supplied during the pandemic.

He visited one of the stores main warehouses and heard how the company maintained food supplies and diversified to include home deliveries.

He

On Twitter Clarence House said the company had “taken part in a number of voluntary projects with five Belfast food banks and helped to provide meals to hospital staff in the Republic”.