Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay and Camilla, Duchess of Rothesay arrived at Laphroaig Distillery on wednesday 4 June at 3pm, reaching Islay Airport by helicopter via an earlier visit to Rothesay. The Black Bottle Islay Pipe Band played the royal couple in, and Port Ellen schoolchildren raised the Royal Standard beside the Union Jack in an increasing breeze on a cloudy afternoon with rain approaching. The Duke and Duchess greeted people in the small but enthusiastic crowd gathered in Laphroaigâ€™s distillery yard, chatting to Islay folk and visitors. Many who attended were visitors from abroad, and the Duke asked where theyâ€™d come from and whether they were enjoying Islay. The Duke of Rothesay wore a kilt suit, and the Duchess looked lovely in her raspberry coloured wool coat with raspberry and pine green plaid collar and trimmings. The couple seemed relaxed and cheerful throughout the visit.
The Duke and Duchess then were welcomed by Laphroaig and Beam Global distillery officials including Tom Flocco, Laphroaigâ€™s Royal Warrant Grantee and Beam Globalâ€™s CEO, and also Patrick Stewart, Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Argyll. The royal couple were then taken on a tour of the distillery, guided by manager John Campbell. Much interest was taken in the distilling process and equipment, and the Duke and Duchess asked many questions of John and of the work-people who were at their tasks about the plant. The Duke was particularly interested in the malt floor, trying his hand at turning the malt with spade and plough, and also in the peat furnace where he asked about the tasks involved in hand-cutting peat and the functions of the equipment. Continue reading.....John Campbell said, 'We are so pleased and proud that the Duke and Duchess have visited us today, and that they have taken such an interest in the distillery and all the people working here who make the whisky happen.' A brief tasting of various ages of Laphroaig single malts was presented to the royal couple. In the distilleryâ€™s reception centre the royal couple met officials of Beam Global, Laphroaigâ€™s parent company, then spent time with Port Ellen Primary Schoolâ€™s teachers and P6 and P7 children admiring their environmental project display, 'Brilliant Beginnings'. The children all behaved impeccably throughout, and answered the Duke and Duchessâ€™s questions about their project and school with confidence and good manners. We can be proud that our young people do well on such an occasion. The Duke asked Head Teacher Violet Cusworth, 'How many primary schools are there in Islay, how many children attend Port Ellen school and whether they were under threat of closure?' The Duke then spoke with Chloe Randall, factor of Dunlossit Estate, concerning the animal welfare issues which will be helped by the soon-to-open abbatoir at Avonvogie.
The Duke and Duchess then signed the Visitor Book and had their photos taken with the entire staff of Laphroaig, and also met the wives and partners of distillery employees. The royal couple were presented with a pottery still made by Arra Fletcher at Persabus, and with two bottles of Laphroaigâ€™s Cairdeas, the Feis Ile bottling. A bottle of rare 40 year old Laphroaig, together with two casks, were signed by the Duke and Duchess and will later be auctioned in aid of the Dukeâ€™s charities.