Cli­mate change on the agenda, South Africa in her heart

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA WATERWORTH and BIANCA CA­PA­ZO­RIO

SHE MAY be a royal, but Princess Char­lene is still a South African girl at heart – with rooi­bos tea and lo­cal skin­care prod­ucts on her shop­ping list.

Cli­mate change and char­ity were high on the royal cou­ple’s agenda when the princess jet­ted into Dur­ban this week with Prince Al­bert of Monaco, who was due to ad­dress the COP17 cli­mate con­fer­ence.

Although they had been trav­el­ling for more than 12 hours and de­spite the Dur­ban hu­mid­ity, the cou­ple looked re­laxed and happy, pos­ing for the me­dia who thronged the en­trance to The Oys­ter Box Ho­tel in Umh­langa on their ar­rival.

Cur­rently set­ting in­ter­na­tional trends with her im­pec­ca­ble fash­ion sense and un­der­stated el­e­gance, Princess Char­lene was wear­ing muted grey teamed with a dusty-pink pash­mina.

The princess, who re­cently at­tended Paris Fash­ion Week, takes ad­vice from the likes of Karl Lager­field and Gior­gio Armani and fre­quently fea­tures in women’s magazines, from Vogue to Hello.

But she is also known for her down-to-earth at­ti­tude and love of sport – a pas­sion which she shares with the prince.

Lunch­ing with Dur­ban friends on the ve­randa at the Oys­ter Box, there was ani- mated dis­cus­sion over the rugby World Cup, while the princess men­tioned she was hop­ing to get some shop­ping done, in­clud­ing a few boxes of rooi­bos tea to take home to the palace.

From Dur­ban, the royal cou­ple flew to Cape Town to at­tend the launch of the Po­laris Cli­mate Change Ob­ser­va­tory on Thurs­day.

Prince Al­bert is the of­fi­cial pa­tron of the Po­laris Cli­mate Change Ob­ser­va­tory and the event was to in­tro­duce a hi-tech, fu­tur­is­tic build­ing at the Wa­ter­front which, when it starts op­er­at­ing in 2014, will act as a cli­mate change ob­ser­va­tory.

Things did not go smoothly for the me­dia at the Wa­ter­front, when jour­nal­ists found them­selves the vic­tims of tight se­cu­rity.

De­spite hav­ing been in­vited to the event, the me­dia was held at bay be­hind a cor­don, and barred from mov­ing to in­ter­view guests – even be­fore the royal cou­ple’s ar­rival – by a burly se­cu­rity guard.

When some jour­nal­ists, un­able to hear the speeches from their po­si­tion, moved for­ward, the se­cu­rity guard moved the cor­don and placed it in front of them – once again sep­a­rat­ing them from guests.

The po­si­tion of the cor­don also meant jour­nal­ists could not see the video pre­sen­ta­tion be­ing made on screens around the out­door venue.

Or­gan­is­ers said some of the screens, which had been posi- tioned to be in front of the crowd, had ear­lier in the day tum­bled over the bal­cony in the fierce wind.

One se­cu­rity guard also threat­ened a pho­tog­ra­pher who had been tak­ing pic­tures of the cou­ple’s ar­rival.

Guests drank cham­pagne and ate oys­ters be­fore the cou­ple’s ar­rival. While some of the snack plat­ters were of­fered to the me­dia, the oys­ter and cham­pagne trays re­mained firmly on the other side of the cor­don. A tray of soft drinks was even­tu­ally also sent over.

When the royal cou­ple ar­rived, they posed word­lessly for pho­tographs be­fore be­ing ush­ered to their seats.

Ru­mours have been cir­cu­lat­ing again this week that the princess is preg­nant. How­ever, if there is a baby bump, it was concealed be­neath a sleek camel coat, but­toned up against the chilly wind.

A pale blue dress peeked out from be­neath the coat. The prince wore a navy blazer and red tie.

In his short speech, Prince Al­bert said he had heard a “lot about cli­mate change” at COP17 and hoped the ob­ser­va­tory “would help peo­ple un­der­stand the work­ings of cli­mate change”.

Ear­lier in the day, the cou­ple met with Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu and handed him a cheque for R1 mil­lion for the Giv­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion Trust, of which the princess is a pa­tron.

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