On their second full-day in Cuba (Tuesday), The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall once again packed their day full of the culture of Cuba. They managed to squeeze some time in for traditional rum mojitos, as well as a sit down with John Lennon…!
After a visit with the British Ambassador, Antony Stokes, Prince Charles hopped behind the wheel of a vintage British roadster, a 1953 MG TD, and drove with his wife to their next event, which celebrated British classic cars and motorbikes. A car aficionado himself, Charles found that the MG was a bit trickier to drive than his Aston Martin.
He commented: “The one I was driving is the most beautiful car. It has an incredible powerful accelerator. It is incredibly close to the brake, so you have to be careful you don’t press the wrong one.”
As the royal couple enjoyed their ride through the streets of Havana, hundreds of locals and tourists lined the streets, waving Union Jack flags and providing a warm and cheerful welcome to them. Charles and Camilla made their way to the vintage sports car rally that was being held in none other than, John Lennon Park.
The park is considered to be the most British area in Havana, complete with a bar called The Yellow Submarine. Braving the heat, the Prince and Duchess decided to have a seat and cool off next to a statue of John Lennon. Created by the Cuban artist Jose Villa Soberon in 2000, the striking sculpture commemorates the 20th anniversary of Lennon’s death.
Evoking a very British sentiment, local musicians were on hand playing covers of some of Britain’s most successful bands, the Beatles and of course, Queen. The Prince of Wales chatted with many of the classic car owners with a large majority of the vintage automobiles hailing from before the 1959 Communist revolution. The car club was started last year after many of the participants realised that there was a great abundance of British cars on the island; many were inherited from their families. A visit from the royal couple was quite an honour for the group.
Next on the royal agenda was a visit to the Areito EGREM Recording Studio. EGREM is known as the national record label of Cuba. Many icons from Cuban music history have recorded at the studio.
While touring the studio, Charles and Camilla enjoyed a jazz performance and had the opportunity to meet one of the members of the Buena Vista Social Club, Eliades Ochoa. Founded in 1996, the Buena Vista Social Club consists of an ensemble of Cuban musicians, who are dedicated to reviving music from the pre-revolutionary period in Cuba. Additionally, the royal couple experienced another performance by Septeto Habanero, a musical group that has been performing for 90 years.
Solo engagements were the next order of the day, with The Prince of Wales making an unannounced trip to Mariel Solar Park and Biomass Harvesters. Prince Charles cut the ribbon to mark the beginning of construction for the solar park. Once the project is finished, it will be the largest solar enterprise in all of the Caribbean. The British company, Mariel Solar, is poised to begin providing power to the Port of Mariel and surrounding communities by 2019. Eventually, they hope to add renewable energy to Cuba’s power grid.
As he toured Biomass Harvesters, the Prince learned how the business is producing biomass energy by harvesting the marabu weed.
Meanwhile, The Duchess of Cornwall joined in on a discussion whose topic is of great concern to her. Meeting with the Federation of Cuban Women, Camilla listened intently to how Cuba is trying to combat domestic violence and exactly how they are supporting and protecting the victims as well as their families.
The Duchess enjoyed speaking with women from a variety of different backgrounds, and took part in that focused on equal rights with equal pay. Mayra Diaz Garcia, the Federation’s Prevention Officer, explained that Cuba has the second-highest number of women in Parliament worldwide.
After the discussion, Camilla made her way to the Paso de Paso Dance Company’s studio with Lis Cuesta Peraza, Cuba’s First Lady. The ladies were treated to an exciting salsa performance with the Duchess sharing that she has been trying to learn the salsa and that she felt that their performance was “brilliant”.
Not surprisingly, the next stop for The Prince of Wales was the organic farm, Finca Marta. As one who has been incredibly passionate about the advantages of organic farming for many years, Prince Charles was keen to take a tour of the farm with its owner, Fernando Funes Monzote. Mr. Monzote took the opportunity to share with the Prince how the farm is trying to popularise the principles of organics in Cuba.
An early advocate for organics, Charles had the Duchy Home Farm converted into an entirely organic farming system, 34 years ago.
Of interest to the Prince were the places pertaining to the farm’s biomass project, the animal barn, the well, the farm’s weathering monitoring station, the vegetable areas, and the beekeeping site where Charles had a taste of some fresh honey.
Finally, the Prince of Wales celebrated his visit to the farm by planting a tree.
For their final engagement of the day, the royal couple were guests at a Gala Cultural performance at the Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso. Included in the Gala were performances by Acosta Danza, Danza Contemporanea and The Cuban National Ballet.
On the couple’s final day in Cuba, Charles and Camilla were taken to a private restaurant called a paladar. A tempting feast was set out so that the couple could fully indulge in all kinds of Cuban delicacies. Some of the specialties included tostones, pieces of plantain that are usually stuffed with ham and cheese, as well as a dish of rice with black beans called moro y cristianos.
Speaking about the Prince and Duchess, Ariel Causa, the director of a company that promotes the Cuban restaurant industry expressed: “They were exposed to the multicultural character and evolution of our cuisine. That fills me with joy.”
While being given a tour by the president of the Cuban Culinary Association, Eddy Fernandez, Prince Charles and Camilla had the opportunity to put their mixology skills to use.
First, Charles tried his hand at the traditional practice of grinding sugar cane with a small hand mill. Finding it to be a bit of a difficult thing to do, the Prince joked about having to crush such a long piece of sugar cane. After producing a respectable half a pint of liquid, Charles asked if it was okay to mix rum with the sugar liquid. Cheekily he said: “I’ve come to a rum do.”
His wish was granted as the couple received a lesson on how to make the perfect Cuban mojito. After the demonstration, Charles and Camilla put their new mojito knowledge to use as they made some mojitos for each other. A mojito is a mixture of muddled mint, sugar syrup, lime juice and soda water. It is one of the most popular drinks on the island.
The Duchess of Cornwall expressed that she felt the mojito was a very refreshing drink… the mint and the lime were a very good mix in the heat. Before leaving, Camilla asked for a copy of the recipe so they could continue making mojitos at home!
Before finishing up their four day tour, the Prince and Duchess had a few more solo engagements to do. The Duchess of Cornwall made a visit to the National Equestrian Centre to watch a training session, spend time chatting with some of the riders and meet some of the horses as well.
Additionally, the Duchess stopped into a farrier’s workshop that was being put on by World Horse Welfare for Cuban farriers.
Prince Charles meanwhile, had a meeting with some artists and entrepreneurs to discuss what happened during the tornado that hit them in January. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and four people lost their lives. The Prince was interested in finding out just what the community did in response to the tornado and found that the groups were able to collect food and provide emergency supplies to the locals who were affected.
Finally, The Prince of Wales stopped into the Centre of Molecular Immunology where he visited with some lung cancer patients that have been treated with one of the centre’s therapeutic vaccines, as well as the caregivers who help the patients with their treatments. He next went to meet with some of the young scientists in the research-development labs, who have been participating in various joint projects with a number of universities in the UK.
With their historic trip at a close, the Prince and the Duchess made the journey to the final stop on their extremely busy Caribbean tour – the Cayman Islands.