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Britain’s Prince Charles to visit Singapore, Malaysia on Southeast Asia tour

SINGAPORE: Britain’s Prince Charles will visit Singapore during a tour of Southeast Asia later this month, where he will meet President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and attend a series of events.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will be welcomed by President Halimah at a ceremony at the Istana, the prince’s office said in a press release on Wednesday (Oct 4). They will also meet the Prime Minister before attending an official dinner. 

This is the duchess’ first official visit to Singapore, while the prince’s last official visit was in March 1979.

Other events in their three-day visit include a meeting with leaders from Singapore’s 10 national religions “to highlight Singapore’s innovative approach to community cohesion”, an event with representatives from British companies working in Singapore, as well as an event to celebrate UK-Singapore cultural collaborations.

Prince Charles will also attend a wreath-laying ceremony to acknowledge the sacrifices made by British, Singaporean and Commonwealth personnel during the two World Wars and other conflicts, the press release said.

The duchess will visit a school to meet young people aspiring to enter the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition. She will present certificates to the 2017 winners and runners-up, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, at a formal awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace in November.

In Kuala Lumpur, the royal couple will attend a gala dinner celebrating 60 years of diplomatic ties between the UK and Malaysia. They will then head to Sarawak and Perak, before ending their visit to Malaysia in Georgetown, Penang.

They will conclude their 11-day tour of Southeast Asia in India, where they will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

NO VISIT TO MYANMAR

The royal couple will not visit Myanmar despite earlier media reports suggesting that an official visit was being planned.

Royal aides acknowledged that Myanmar had been considered as part of the schedule for the trip, which the prince is undertaking on behalf of the British government. But it was omitted from the final programme issued on Wednesday.

“We looked at a range of options in the region and, as we’re announcing today, we’re going ahead with the visit to Singapore and Malaysia,” Mr Philip Malone, Deputy Head of Department at Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told reporters.

Mr Malone and royal aides declined to elaborate.

More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the past month since insurgents attacked security posts near the border, triggering fierce military retaliation that the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing.

Last month Britain suspended its training programme for the military in Myanmar because of the violence, and diplomatic relations have deteriorated.

Rights campaigners had argued against a royal visit.

“To have someone of Prince Charles’ stature go to visit the country would be seen as a reward, and giving legitimacy to the government and the military that are currently violating international law,” said Mr Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK.

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