Royal visit celebrates double Cambridge birthday

PUBLISHED: 20:06 29 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:43 30 November 2016

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the college chapel at King's College Cambridge, to listen to a rehearsal by King's College Choir. Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the college chapel at King's College Cambridge, to listen to a rehearsal by King's College Choir. Victoria Jones/PA Wire

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Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit Cambridge

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visit the University of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum to mark its bicentenary and to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Cambridge University Library. Victoria Jones/PA WireThe Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visit the University of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum to mark its bicentenary and to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Cambridge University Library. Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to Cambridge on Tuesday to mark a double birthday in the city.

They visited the world famous Fitzwilliam Museum to help celebrate its bicentenary as well as the 600th anniversary of the Cambridge University Library and the Prince of Wales revealed how he was lucky to escape with his life while studying in the city.

He said: “For me, it has always been the greatest pleasure to come back to Cambridge and I always felt I was so lucky to be able to study at this university. It all went by in a flash! I am horrified to realise that of course, very shortly, next year, it will be 50 years since I arrived. All I can tell you is that time goes past unbelievably quickly. But I enjoyed it enormously, and well, you can look at the results now, as far as I am concerned. Quite how I survived being run over by a bus when I was on a bicycle, just outside here, I don’t know...but it was a very special experience, as most of you probably know.

“My wife and I could not be more delighted, ladies and gentlemen, to be able to join you today in celebrating the long life of the Fitzwilliam Museum and of course the even longer life of the University Library. And so, it was a great pleasure to meet quite a few of the people involved in both of these great Cambridge institutions.

The Prince of Wales talks to a school boy during a visit to the University of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum to mark its bicentenary and to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Cambridge University Library. Victoria Jones/PA WireThe Prince of Wales talks to a school boy during a visit to the University of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum to mark its bicentenary and to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Cambridge University Library. Victoria Jones/PA Wire

“These remarkable centres of knowledge and discovery demonstrate, I think, the great contribution that academia can make to our understanding and responding to the challenges of our time. For hundreds of years this university has been a global leader in education and research for the natural world. It now has a really critical role to play to help the world respond to its most intractable challenge, that is securing the sustainable future that respects and upholds the environmental limits of our planet. The academic community has a lot to offer in supporting governments, businesses and society to solve global challenges through collaboration and interdisciplinary research we can unlock the necessary action.

“My old university has set a remarkable example in this regard, for instance the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is, I think, a remarkable collaboration between the University of Cambridge and leading internationally-focused biodiversity conservation organisations clustered in and around Cambridge. The university has created a number of strategic research initiatives like the Cambridge global food security initiative, which bring together academics to address large scale multi disciplinary global challenges. And of course, there is, as the Vice Chancellor mentioned, The Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, showing how collaborations between academia, businesses and policy makers can actually yield results such as through my Business in Sustainability Programme which we developed more than 20 years ago which now has a network of over 2,500 senior executives. And, also my Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, which has actually been at the forefront of business efforts to tackle climate change since 2005.

“So, it is remarkable what this university is doing and I can only congratulate the Fitzwilliam and the Cambridge University Library in their anniversary and wish them many, many happy returns.”

The royal pair were welcomed to the Fitzwilliam Museum by the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Sir Hugh Duberly, by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, and by the museum’s director, Tim Knox.

At the museum, they met pupils from King’s Hedges School and Soham Village College, who were taking part in educational activities designed by the museum to get primary school children involved in their exhibits.

The royal couple were also introduced to staff from the Fitzwilliam Museum, and were shown treasures from the museum’s collection including a unique sculpture in wax, Arabesque over the Right Leg, Left Arm in Front, by Edgar Degas, and a European medieval illuminated manuscript.

The Prince and the Duchess also met with staff from the Cambridge University Library and were given a demonstration of the UL’s digitisation techniques, as well as being shown rare items from the collection including a copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by means of natural selection (1859) and Andreas Vesalius De humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome (1543).

Also at the Fitzwilliam, the royals met with representatives of university-led and local outreach, education and development initiatives including the Cambridge-Africa Programme, the Cambridge Development Initiative, the Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre, the Campaign for Female Education, and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, of which the Prince of Wales 
is patron.

Finally, they were introduced to foreign students awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarships.

Following the visit to the museum, the royal pair visited King’s College chapel and sat in on a rehearsal of the famous choir before meeting the choristers and members of the college.

The Prince of Wales attended Trinity College and is also a patron of the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust.

The Duchess of Cornwall also took time out to visit homeless charity Emmaus Cambridge in Landbeach which was founded in 1991 by local businessman 
Selwyn Image. It began with two derelict buildings in a field but can now offer 29 companions a home and the opportunity to volunteer 
their time in a successful 
social enterprise.

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