The Duke of Edinburgh visits South Africa and St Helena

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This week, The Duke of Edinburgh is visiting South Africa and St Helena. His Royal Highness is the first Member of the Royal Family to visit St Helena, one of the world’s most remote islands, since The Princess Royal travelled there in 2002.

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

Pretoria, South Africa

Starting in South Africa, The Duke visited Pretoria Garden, an urban space rich in biodiversity and home to over 220 bird species. 

The Duke of Edinburgh visits South Africa

Last year, His Royal Highness toured Kew Gardens with President Ramaphosa, as part of the State Visit of the President of South Africa to the UK. 

 

The Duke of Edinburgh visits Kew Gardens with President Ramaphosa
The Duke of Edinburgh visits Kew Gardens with President Ramaphosa of South Africa, 2022

 

In Pretoria, His Royal Highness heard more about the collaboration between Kew and the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

The Duke of Edinburgh visits South Africa

Later, The Duke attended a President’s Award Reception, recognising winners of the DofE Gold Award which supports 3,000 young South Africans every year. 

The Duke of Edinburgh visits South Africa

St Helena

Tuesday 23rd January

Tuesday marked the start of The Duke of Edinburgh’s four-day visit to St Helena! One of the most remote inhabited islands on earth, St Helena has a population of less than 4,500 people.

The Duke received a very special welcome from Jonathan the Tortoise, who, aged 191 years, is the oldest living land animal in the world.

The Seychelles giant tortoise has outlived seven British monarchs, having been born in the reign of William IV and with King Charles III becoming the eighth monarch of his lifespan so far.

The Duke of Edinburgh meets Jonathan the Tortoise

His Royal Highness is not the first Member of the Royal Family to meet Jonathan, who previously spent time with King George VI, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II (when she was Princess Elizabeth) and Princess Margaret in 1947, when he was 115 years old.

Jonathan, at the age of 125 years, was even fed by The late Duke of Edinburgh during a trip to St Helena in 1957!

King George VI, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret meet Jonathan the Tortoise
King George VI, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret meet Jonathan the Tortoise in 1947.

 

Wednesday 24th January

On Wednesday, HRH viewed spectacular sights from Jacob’s Ladder, a 699-step staircase that leads to Ladder Hill Fort.  

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

The Duke climbed the first few steps and saw the historic Jamestown.

The Duke of Edinburgh visits St Helena

At Grand Parade, The Duke of Edinburgh met members of the local community, including Scouts, Girl Guides, and school groups.

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

His Royal Highness also popped into Saint Helena Coffee Shop, where he sampled Saint Helena Coffee by Jill Bolton, the Owner of Rosemary Gate Coffee Plantation.

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

Later, The Duke visited HRH The Princess Royal Community Care Centre, where His Royal Highness met members of the social care senior management team and heard about the role the Care Centre plays for local residents and its beneficiaries.

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

On a tour, The Duke saw the Community Care Centre’s cornerstone, which was laid by The Princess Royal during her visit in 2002.

At Rosemary Plain, The Duke was introduced to groups of DoE Award facilitators and recipients, as well as young people interested in starting their journey with the Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

To end the day, at Blue Point cliff-top walk, HRH took in the views and surrounding wildlife, hearing about St Helena's history and ecology from an expert local guide. 

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

 

Thursday 25th January

On Thursday, The Duke of Edinburgh continued his visit to St Helena as he joined a marine tour, spotting a whale sharkSt Helena is known for its rich wildlife, biodiversity, and is home to more than 500 species which are found nowhere else on earth. 

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

At Millennium Forest, The Duke planted a tree and spoke to staff about the work they do to help maintain more than a third of all the endemic biodiversity in the whole of the UK and its territories.

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

 

Friday 26th January

In the morning, before departing the island, The Duke unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of St Helena airport. 

The Duke of Edinburgh in St Helena

His Royal Highness, who is the first Member of the Royal Family to have arrived on the island by air, met with airport staff and learnt about the vital global links the airport brings to the island. 

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