The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have showed their support for flood-hit communities during a visit to Devon.

Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall talk to school children during a visit to Braunton in North Devon which was affected by recent flooding
Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall talk to school children during a visit to Braunton in North Devon which was affected by recent flooding
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Their Royal Highnesses visited Braunton, one of the villages worst affected by last year’s storms.

Floodwater surged to 5ft (1.5m) in part of the village in the run-up to Christmas, forcing businesses to work tirelessly in an effort to keep trading. Some, such as the London Inn pub, remain closed due to the severity of the damage.

Hundreds of people braved the chilly north Devon wind that whipped through the village to welcome Their Royal Highnesses, who had specifically asked to visit Braunton to see the recovery effort.

Most of the 300 pupils at nearby Caen Primary School lined the streets, while one group of well-wishers surprised The Prince with a “Welcome Prince Charming” banner – something The Prince joked must have been intended for someone else.

As Union flags and bunting held over from last year’s Jubilee celebrations fluttered in the breeze, a handful of sandbags at the roadside acted as a reminder of the reason for The Prince and The Duchess’s visit.

Many villagers were effectively cut off in the days leading up to Christmas after the River Caen twice burst its banks.

Ivan Rees, manager of the At One cafe, said the Royal visit inspired businesses in Braunton to “bounce back” from adversity.

He said: “The visit today means a lot because it shows we are being listened to. Prince Charles has shown a real interest and desire, I think, to find out what can be done to help people and prepare for future floods.”

The royal tour started with a visit to Braunton News, where flood waters up to 3ft resulted in serious damage to the stock.

Owner Nick Phillips said: “Both The Prince and The Duchess asked about how we were affected, what had been done to help, and what lessons had been learned. To have people as important as them come down to Braunton has been a real boost to all of us.”

The couple later went on to a special reception at the village hall with flood victims and emergency services, with a photo slideshow cataloguing the effects of last year’s damage on a large screen.

The Royal couple later headed to Plymouth for a series of military engagements.

During her visit to HMS Drake’s Hasler Company – which helps to aid the recovery and re-integration of injured and ill service personnel – The Duchess met marine Spencer Vaugan, 25, who broke his neck during adventure training in 2010.

The marine plans to study Physical Development at university when he leaves Hasler Company, and is to marry fiancee Jodie Jenkins next year. The Duchess wished the pair good luck with the wedding.

During this time, The Prince visited HMS Bulwark at sea where he met members of the ship’s company.

The couple then attended a special service at the 1,000-year-old Exeter Cathedral, marking the success of its Third Millennium Campaign.

The Prince, in his capacity as Patron of the campaign, has helped raise £8 million for the fund, which has gone to support conservation of the building and its library services.

The Prince and The Duchess took their seats at the front of the 600-strong congregation this afternoon for the thanksgiving service, at which the National Anthem was sung.

During their hour-long visit, the Royal coupld were shown the historic Exeter Book, a 10th century collection of Anglo Saxon poetry, as well as a wonderfully preserved 350-year-old bill for a cathedral organ.

Chorister Anna Hall, 11, presented the duchess with a mixed bouquet as the Royal couple left to the cheers of a crowd of onlookers.

Source: PrinceOfWales.gov.uk

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