Prince Charles and Camilla kick off Asia tour in Singapore
SINGAPORE (AP) — Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrived in Singapore on Tuesday, the first stop of an 11-day trip to strengthen ties between Britain and Asian countries.
They received a ceremonial welcome to kick off a visit to the Southeast Asian island nation in which they will have an orchid named after them and be hosted at a state banquet by Singapore’s president, Halimah Yacob.
Charles, the heir to the British throne, last visited Singapore in 1979. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, which honors soldiers who died during World Wars I and II.
Singapore was a British colony and a valuable trading port. Thousands of soldiers from countries such as Britain, Australia and New Zealand died when Japanese troops moved swiftly down the Malay Peninsula in early 1942.
It was on Feb. 15, 1942, after a week of fierce, last-ditch fighting, that British Lt.-Gen. Arthur Ernest Percival surrendered Singapore and hostilities ceased.
The British returned after the war. Still, locals pushed for self-rule, and Singapore became independent in 1965.
“This visit reaffirms the historic and long-standing relationship between Singapore and the United Kingdom,” Singapore’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The royal couple leaves for Malaysia on Thursday. They’ll cap off their Asia tour with visits to Brunei and India.
British media reported that Myanmar was considered for the trip but was excluded from the itinerary. The mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of minority Muslim Rohingya amid violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state has become a major humanitarian crisis, with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi facing heavy international criticism.