By Tom Mitchell
Prince Charles officially opened a new visitor experience, honoured a local ancestor and a local regiment and witnessed a 350-strong rendition of the popular hymn Jerusalem, during a visit to Durham Cathedral and Durham University.
HRH The Prince of Wales also met University staff and students, Cathedral staff, volunteers and choristers, local dignitaries and supporters of both organisations, as well as well-wishers who were among the large crowds which gathered to welcome him on Palace Green.
Alex Mackinder, a Classics student at Josephine Butler College, conducted the Durham University Symphony Orchestra in the Durham Cathedral concert and met the Prince afterwards.
WATCH: Prince Charles discusses places to eat in Durham as he greets well-wishers on Palace Green (Clara Gaspar)
He told Palatinate: “To have such a prestigious audience member was pretty extraordinary. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for months, with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. It was really great.”
Meanwhile Hayley Lam, a Music student at Hatfield College, led the orchestra in the concert and was also introduced to the Prince afterwards. She said: “It was great. To play some of the most rousing and patriotic music there is to the Prince – it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. It was very exciting.”
Another student involved in the orchestra, Fran Howard, a second-year oboe player from Hatfield College, told Palatinate: “As you can imagine the force of 250 musicians in the cathedral produced an absolutely incredible sound. Parry is one of Prince Charles’ favourite composers and he would have been very familiar with the repertoire we played.
“He addressed the orchestra after the performance saying he had ‘never heard it like that before’ with quite so many singers and players. Soloist, Sir Thomas Allen, sung the baritone solo in Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet, and he sounded glorious.”
She added: “I will cherish this memory for a long time!”
Outside the Cathedral, the Prince greeted cheering crowds on Palace Green and was entertained by the County Durham Cadet Band and Bugles. Nick Mainwaring, formerly of Van Mildert College, summed up the mood: “How often is it that you get to see the heir to the throne in your home town?”
The Prince then entered Durham University’s Palace Green Library, where he met representatives of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) and toured the DLI Collection Gallery: Courage, Comrades and Community exhibition.
His Royal Highness signed the visitors’ book before being escorted to his car to depart Durham City.
The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, said: “We are thrilled that Prince Charles has visited Durham Cathedral and formally opened Open Treasure. He enjoyed visiting the exhibition and the Cathedral enormously and it has been an honour to host a visit from such a distinguished royal guest.”
Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, said: “We were honoured to welcome Prince Charles to Durham University and delighted that he was able to meet a number of our staff and students.”
Featured photograph: Maddie Flisher