The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall In Coventry

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The Prince of Wales talks to apprentice Ellie Bowes as he tours the facility and meets employees during his visit to the London EV Company in Coventry, 2019.

THE PRINCE OF WALES AND THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL WILL UNDERTAKE ENGAGEMENTS IN COVENTRY AND CELEBRATE COVENTRY BEING THE UK’S CITY OF CULTURE 2021 

TUESDAY 25TH MAY 2021 

Engagement 1

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Coventry Cathedral during the 59th anniversary of its Consecration year. 

During the visit, The Prince of Wales will undertake a tour of the cathedral, lay a wreath and light candles at a short service where the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation will be said as an act of solidarity and remembrance. 

The visit at the beginning of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, marks the definitive place of the Cathedral in the identity of Coventry as a City of Peace and Reconciliation. 

The visit provides an opportunity for Their Royal Highnesses to commemorate the destruction of the Cathedral in 1940, to celebrate the consecration of the New Cathedral on 25th May 1962 and to recognise the Cathedral’s ministry of peace and reconciliation. 

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be met by the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Christopher Cocksworth. 

The party will then move to the ruins of the old Cathedral where the Dean of Coventry will provide a brief overview of the historical and spiritual significance of the site before The Prince of Wales lays a wreath at the ‘Altar of Rubble’ before being shown the Reconciliation Statue. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then move to the new Cathedral where they will be given a short tour of the Cathedral, including the Peace Bell, before walking to the main altar where they will be able to observe the Cathedral. The party will then be shown the Stalingrad Madonna, before taking their seats in the body of the cathedral for a short service during which the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation will be said, before Their Royal Highnesses light candles. 

Coventry Litany of Reconciliation 

The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation is said each weekday in the Cathedral and in the Ruins every Friday. 

Ruins and Charred Cross 

The original Cathedral of St Michael was built between the late 14th and early 15th centuries. On 14 November 1940, during a sustained air raid which devastated the city and Coventry’s Cathedral. In the months that followed, it became a place of pilgrimage, remembrance and hope. 

Within hours, it was decided to build a new cathedral, leaving the shell of the medieval building as testament to the waste of war and as an eloquent memorial to the 600 citizens of Coventry who died that night. 

Soon after the bombing, two burnt oak roof beams that had fallen in the shape of a cross were picked up and bound together. An altar was built from the rubble and the cross erected. The words ‘Father Forgive’ were carved in 1948 to highlight the reality that we all need forgiveness, not just those who have harmed us. This altar of forgiveness lies at the heart of the Cathedral’s ministry. This is a copy of the original Charred Cross, which is on display inside. 

Reconciliation Statue 

Originally created in 1977 and called Reunion, this sculpture by Josefina de Vasconcellos shows a couple embracing across barbed wire. It was given to the cathedral in 1995 by Richard Branson to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. An identical sculpture was placed on behalf of the people of Coventry in the Peace Garden in Hiroshima, Japan. Two others are in Belfast and Berlin. 

Baptistery Window – which will be seen when Their Royal Highnesses light candles 

Designed by artist John Piper, working with glassmaker Patrick Reyntiens, and measuring 26-metres high and 17-metres wide, the Baptistery window was designed to be ‘the first important incident’ within the building. The bright primary colours shine on the front and towards the Chapel of Unity to put the Cathedral’s two key purposes in the spotlight: spiritual growth through baptism and the nurturing of peace. 

Echoing the old Cathedral’s windows, its lattice-like stonework is formed of straight lines and sharp angles using modern methods in place of the stonemason’s traditional chisel and hammer. 

Peace Bell 

Engraved with the word ‘peace’ in English and German, this bell was presented by Richard von Weizsäcker, then President of Germany, at a service of reconciliation attended by Her Majesty The Queen Mother in 1990 to mark 50 years since the bombing of Coventry. 

Stalingrad Madonna 

The charcoal sketch of a Russian Mary sheltering her baby was drawn on the back of a military map by Kurt Reuber, a German army surgeon under siege in Stalingrad in December 1942. The words ‘Light, Life and Love’ show that despite the suffering he could still recall the meaning of Christmas. 

The artist died in a prisoner of war camp. The original picture was sent to his wife on the last plane to leave the besieged city. It is now on display in Berlin. This replica was given as a sign of the reconciliation between the former enemies. 

Engagement 2

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will watch a short performance by artists involved in the Coventry UK City of Culture before Their Royal Highnesses tour an exhibition 2 Tone: Lives and Legacies

HRH The Prince of Wales, Royal Founding Patron of the British Asian Trust, will then meet local members of the Indian Community who are fundraising to support those impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in India and meet with those who have been directly affected by the pandemic in India through friends and relatives living there. 

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be greeted by Manny Coulon (Chair of Culture Coventry) on arrival. They will then watch a short dress rehearsal Defying Gravity – part of Youthfulness section of Coventry Moves which takes place on 5th June which is the signature event of the Coventry UK City of Culture. 

Their Royal Highness will then meet David Burbridge, Chairman of the Coventry city of Culture Trust, and visit the 2 Tone: Lives and Legacies exhibition, meeting Martin Roberts (Lead Curator) and Pauline Black (member of the 2 Tone group, The Selecter). The exhibition includes fan and band memorabilia, documentary photography and even clothing worn by the groups. 

Before departing, The Prince will then attend a reception for the British Asian Trust to celebrate those who have helped to raise funds for the charity’s Oxygen For India campaign. Many of those present will have been directly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in India through friends and relatives living there. 

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 will commence in May 2021, running for 12 months. The 365-day cultural programme will reflect Coventry as a diverse, modern city, demonstrating that culture is a force that changes lives. For a whole year, Coventry will celebrate with events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle. This epic celebration will also witness the entire region getting involved and benefitting from the opportunities that being a City of Culture brings. It will be co-created with the people of Coventry and bring about long-term social, economic and cultural benefits. 

2 Tone: Lives & Legacies Music Exhibition 

2 Tone: Lives & Legacies is the first-ever major exhibition in the UK devoted to the 2 Tone music sensation. The exhibition explores the formation of the record label and examines its philosophy, political and social message, design and impact on the music charts of the day. It highlights the bands that were part of the label, focussing on The Specials, The Selecter and other ska-influenced bands such as Madness, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers. It looks at 2 Tone’s continuing influence on music, fashion, politics and culture. 

The British Asian Trust 

Founded by The Prince of Wales in 2007, the British Asian Trust wants to see a South Asia that is prospering and fair for all. Its work supports large-scale, sustainable solutions that enable poor and marginalised people to achieve their full potential. Its work has had a positive impact on the lives of almost five million people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. www.britishasiantrust.org 

The British Asian Trust launched ‘Oxygen For India’, an emergency appeal in response to the Covid-19 crisis in India, it has raised to date £4million. Having consulted with the Indian and UK governments, the British Asian Trust’s advisors and programme partners in India have outlined a package of support that will compliment what industry, government and other charities are doing to help. The support generated is helping purchase 4,835 oxygen concentrators, 2 PSA plants, medical supplies and tele-medical linkages for 2,000 villages in India. Over the coming weeks, the British Asian Trust will deepen its focus on medical care to treat those in rural and hard to reach communities who have little or no access to medical facilities; and start work on longer term strategies that will enable a more sustainable route out of the crisis including supporting a vaccine programme to ensure the poorest people have equal access to life-saving vaccines and mental health support for children and adults to cope with the unprecedented levels of grief and anxiety. 

The British Asian Trust has also partnered with Project Step One for medical doctors to be able to volunteer online and partnered with Shout to provide mental health support to those in the UK who are worried or anxious about the situation in India. 

Engagement 3 

The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Almshouse Association, will celebrate the Association’s 75th anniversary during a visit to the Coventry Church Municipal Charities Bond’s Hospital. 

Bond’s Hospital Almshouses, although dating back to the 16th Century, have expanded with modern new homes as part of the almshouse community. They maintain the historic buildings for their original use – as well as providing new homes for people in housing need. 

The Prince of Wales will be greeted by the Chairman of the Coventry Church (Municipal) charities Victor Keene MBE, Vice Chair Mrs V Rigby, Mrs E Fathi, Mr N Phillips both of The Almshouse Association, Mr R Kenyon Chairman of Bond’s Hospital Estate Charity and Mr M White CEO of Coventry Church (Municipal) Charities. 

His Royal Highness will meet trustees and sign the visitor’s book in the boardroom of Bond’s Hospital, which is a member of the Almshouse Association. 

The Prince will then join residents from Bond’s Hospital almshouses in the City and staff in the garden at a reception where His Royal Highness will cut a cake to mark the 75th anniversary of the Association and Elizabeth Fathi, Chair of The Almshouse Association, will say a few words. 

The Almshouse Association 

Almshouses are a 1,000 year old form of community housing for people in housing need. Almshouse charities own and manage over 30,000 almshouses in the UK, supporting approximately 36,000 residents, providing affordable, community homes for local people in housing need. The Almshouse Association, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is a membership charity that represents a network of over 1600 independent almshouse charities across the UK. 

The Association also provides loans, grants and funding advice to member charities for redevelopment and refurbishment of their almshouses, as well as crisis support. 

The Almshouse Association has research underway to show the value of small scale, charity led, homes that focus on compassion, community and companionship. 

The Almshouse movement is seeking to build more almshouses to respond to the great need for genuinely affordable homes within the communities where people strong local connections. 

Bond’s Hospital Almshouse 

In the 16th Century, Coventry was an important centre of the woollen trade, manufacturing and exporting wool and textiles. In their wills, two of the city’s most prosperous merchants, left estates to found almshouses for the benefit of members of the Trinity Guild who had fallen on hard times. Thomas Bond’s bedehouse was founded in Hill Street in 1506 for ten poor men and a woman to ‘dress their meat’ and in 1509 William Ford’s Hospital and Chantry was built in Greyfriars’ Lane and accommodated six poor men and their wives. Over the years, Bond’s came to house only men and Ford’s only women. Both now have a happy mix of both. 

In 1836, Bonds Hospital needed extensive restoration as it had been seriously neglected. Ford’s Hospital was partly destroyed in the Second World War but was restored in 1953 after a public appeal. More recently, Bond’s Tudor building and a 70s extension have been upgraded and a fine new wing added. Ford’s has also been refurbished and now has five flats with every modern facility. In 2020 a further 45 flats were added in a new development, Bond’s Lodge. 

In total, the charity has 125 residents accommodated in 117 self-contained apartments. The almshouses are managed by a staff team of 11 led jointly by the Operations Manager and CEO/Clerk. 

Engagement 4

The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Coventry Central Library and meet library users who will be taking part in some of the activities that the library offers. Her Royal Highness will also launch ‘One Million Reads Coventry’ where library visitors are taking on the challenge of reading one million books by 2022. As part of the launch, The Duchess will read a short excerpt from the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. 

Her Royal Highness will be entertained by a modern dance performance by the Off- Balance Dance company and music performed by Abz Winter and DeeDeeLay as part of the UK City of Culture. 

On arrival at the library, Her Royal Highness will be met by Peter Barnett Head of Services and Carol Robinson Central Library Manager. 

The Duchess will be informed of the library services before moving to a children’s area where she will join in with their reading and rhyme time for 0 – 5 year olds. Her Royal Highness will read a short excerpt from the Hungry Caterpillar. 

The Duchess will then meet people involved in Creative Kindness, a project that links crafts with positive well-being and kindness. Her Royal Highness will also view a model of medieval Coventry, created by model maker Peter Garvett. 

Her Royal Highness will then move to the teen space where she will meet children from Eden Girls School. The teenagers are involved in encouraging youngsters to use the library and will be creating posters for a new display. The Duchess will also be shown a selection of books that the library holds in different languages, before meeting staff involved in ‘Reading Friends’, a project which helps to support older members of the community 

The Duchess will also watch a perforce by Off Balance Dance – presenting work in progress from ‘Next Chapter’ – their creative contemporary class for 50+ and 

Deedeelay and Abz Winter performing together. Both artists from the Front Room Sessions, an album produced entirely in lockdown by the City of Culture Trust, this performance demonstrates how City of Culture 2021 is bringing the arts to different settings in the City. 

Her Royal Highness has a strong interest in shining a spotlight on the importance of literacy and is Patron of several organisations which promote and support literacy, including the National Literacy Trust and the Book Trust. 

Her Royal Highness is also involved in ‘The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room’, which is a hub for literary communities around the world and celebrates literature in all its form. The Duchess also shares some of Her Royal Highness’s favourite books on the platform. 

The Reading Room (@duchessofcornwallsreadingroom)

Get it Loud in Libraries 

Coventry Central Library is one of the most visited libraries in the UK. The Library has a strong community focus that aims to promote literacy across cultural and language divides through a range of free activities. 

Since becoming the City Library, the building has maintained the double height dance-floor space that can still be used today. The Library regularly hosts gigs as part of ‘Get it Loud in Libraries’ an Arts Council funded initiative. 

Since 1986, the building has seen a number of interior redesigns including the creation of a designated Children’s area, Teenage area, Health and Well-being zone and designated space for free computer use. 

One Million Reads Coventry 

With the help of an Arts Council Award for £97,000, Coventry Libraries and Information Service is linking up with Coventry City of Culture Trust to deliver a fantastic programme of events including One Million Reads Coventry where library visitors will be taking on the challenge of collectively reading one million books by May 2022. 

Engagement 5

The Prince of Wales will visit the Daimler Powerhouse and meet artists who create outdoor and site-specific creative work. 

His Royal Highness will then, as Patron of the Canal & River Trust, travel on a working heritage boat Scorpio up the Coventry Canal to the Coventry Canal Basin. During the short journey, The Prince will meet local community groups helping to look after the canal. 

On arrival at the Coventry Canal Basin, His Royal Highness will watch performances showcasing the UK City of Culture celebrations. 

The Prince of Wales will be met by Roger Medwell Chair of Imagineer and Allan Leighton from Canal & River Trust. 

At the former Daimler Factory, now known as The Daimler Powerhouse, The Prince will undertake a short tour of the building. His Royal Highness will meet artists involved in building a ‘ship’ powered by tricycles – the ship is going to travel into communities reconnecting people to blue spaces/the ocean. The Prince will also meet a learning disabled artist who is working on a public art commission for the City of Culture 2021, inspired by his commitment to saving wildlife in the city before meeting an artistic director creating a major new artwork out of bamboo, considered the most sustainable building material on the planet, for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. 

The Prince will then undertake a short walk to the Canal where he will be met by representatives from the Canal & River Trust, before boarding the working heritage boat Scorpio for a short ten-minute boat ride to Coventry Canal Basin. Onboard, His Royal Highness will meet representatives from the local community and volunteer groups who, over the last 18 months, have worked alongside the Canal & River Trust to transform the canal into a community space where local people can spend time being next to the water and close to nature. 

At the Coventry Canal Basin, His Royal Highness will watch a preview performance by Highly Sprung, a physical theatre company and Random String, an art collaborative who are working on a project with the Canal & River Trust to combine art and technology to deepen our engagement with the natural world. 

The Daimler Powerhouse 

Was originally the first car factory in Britain and later was where the first Forklift Truck was created. 

Canal & River Trust 

The charity, Canal & River Trust, cares for and brings to life 2,000 miles of canals and river navigations across England & Wales. The charity helps to bring communities together to make a difference to their local waterway. 

Coventry Canal 

The Coventry Canal starts in Coventry Canal Basin and stretches for 38 miles into the Midlands’ countryside. The 5½ mile stretch from Coventry Canal Basin to Hawkesbury Junction is where the Coventry Canal meets the Oxford Canal. It was once a busy trade route. Due to the closure of local collieries, by the 1950s the Coventry Canal began to decline and risked being closed forever. Thanks to volunteers and the Canal & River Trust, the canal was saved. 

Heritage Working Boat – Scorpio built in 1935 in Northwich 

Scorpio was part of the fleet for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company and carried goods such as coal from the Midlands to London. In 1948 the boat was transferred to British Waterways Transport where she became part of the fleet carrying goods and equipment needed to maintain the canals. 

Community Groups represented on Scorpio 

Coventry Mercia Lions Club – This group has adopted 2.5 miles of canal and plans to operate regular clean-up patrols. They intend to work with other groups to create a ‘peace garden’ in the basin and bring a wider network of businesses and faith groups into partnership with the Canal & River Trust. 

Crises – A national charity, working with vulnerable and homeless people has adopted the Canal Basin Garden. Working in partnership with the Lions Club, they plan to develop the basin garden as a therapeutic offering by creating plots for people to garden and improve. 

Good Gym – A national charity, providing a combination of exercise and voluntary activity to its members. Their groups run along the regions canals, collecting waste and litter as they go. 

City of Culture performers 

Imagineer – make live events, in particular theatre and outdoor performance, education programmes, special commissions and touring work. They’re based in the former Daimler factory. 

Highly sprung – is one of the UK’s leading physical theatre companies making work for and with children and young people. They create outdoor and indoor performances that tell stories through movement, gesture and dance. They also train artists in physical theatre and run projects in primary and secondary schools here and across the world. 

Ludic Rooms – create post digital artworks, experiences and events that empower communities, offering creative opportunities to engage with technologies through experimentation and play. They work with arts, heritage and community organisations, local authorities and education providers to demystify creative technologies and tackle the social challenges of the 21st Century. They also support independent artists through development programmes, commissioning and training initiatives.