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Charles mourns friend, quake victims; Camilla’s naughty great-granny

Prince Charles visits the ruins of Amatrice. the town clock stopped at the moment of the earthquake. Picture Reuters

Charles mourns friend, quake victims; Camilla’s naughty great-granny

Charles, Camilla in Italy; he mourns quake victims, she recalls a naughty relative

Charles mourns friend, quake victims; Camilla’s naughty great-granny

Prince Charles has visited the Italian town hit by a devastating quake last year, walking amid the ruins of ancient buildings and paying tributes to the victims.

Like William and Kate’s weekend in Paris last month, Charles and Camilla have been sent to wave the Union Jack in Europe as Britain prepares to exit the EU.

The idea is to use the royals’ “soft power” to shore up the frosty relations caused by Britain’s decision, and build goodwill prior to the lengthy and tough negotiations that will lead to a new political, trade and social relationship.

Wearing a hard hat, Charles entered the abandoned “red zone” in the centre of Amatrice, where collapsed houses lie next to the ruins of a 13th century civic tower, and walked alone in silent contemplation.

“It’s a scene of terrifying devastation,” he said as he passed in front of a destroyed church.

Charles met some of the survivors, some with tears in their eyes. One woman wept, a man clasped hands with the prince.

He laid a wreath at a monument to victims, bowing his head and pausing in reflection for a few moments.

The 6.2-magnitude quake on 24 August killed 297 people. Three Britons died, including William Henniker-Gotley. His wife worked for Charles’ charity Children & the Arts and they knew each other well.

While Charles was in Amatrice, Camilla visited the Arcobaleno association in Florence that helps female victims of human trafficking.

She also laid flowers in front of a plaque for her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, who spent her last years in the city after earning notoriety for her affair with King Edward VII.

When Camilla met Charles in the 1970s, she is said to have joked: “My great-grandmother was your great-great-grandfather’s mistress, so how about it?”

Camilla recalled childhood holidays at the Keppels’ 14th century villa not far from the Arno river. It had been the home of Galileo Galilei, the astronomer, in the early 1600s.

On Saturday, Charles paid homage to World War I victims in Vicenza while Camilla toured the area near Naples.

Today, the royals will attend a reception marking the 100th anniversary of the British Institute of Florence, where Charles will be honoured as the Renaissance Man of the Year.

The award is presented to someone who over the course of their lives has demonstrated the values of Renaissance humanism in philanthropy, the arts, and social causes and fostering global understanding of economic and social issues.

Tomorrow, the couple will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican.

On their European tour, Charles and Camilla have visited Romania and will travel to Austria after Italy.

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