Charles and Camilla surprise public with trip to Oxford

The Prince of Wales visited the city in order to officially open the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visiting the Covered Market. Picture: Ric Mellis

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall surprised crowds last Tuesday in Oxford by taking a whirlwind trip of the city.

One of the highlights for the public was when Charles and Camilla visited a variety of stalls and shops in the Covered Market, including the Colombia Coffee shop, Brown’s Café and The Garden florist outlet.

When asked for her views on the Covered Market, Camilla exclusively told Cherwell that she thought it was “pretty nice”.

She added: “I haven’t been here for a long time. My son was a student so I used to come when he was here”.

Paul Birtles, owner of The Garden, told The Oxford Mail that it was the “most exciting thing to happen” in his life, while Agostinho Freitas, co-owner of Brown’s Café, said “it was a dream” to meet the future king.

The visit was well-attended by hundreds of tourists, students and town-dwellers, to see the heir to the throne and his consort make their way through the city’s historic market.

The Prince of Wales visited the city in order to officially open the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS)—32 years after its establishment, but only five years since the OCIS was granted a royal charter to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.

According to the OCIS website, it was established “to encourage the scholarly study of Islam and the Islamic world”, with Prince Charles as the Patron of the Centre.

In a speech addressed on the opening of the OCIS, Charles encouraged the audience to “explore what unites rather than divides us.”

He went on: “There has perhaps never been a greater need for cultural connectivity. In the world in which we now live, with fears about ‘The Other’… rather than promote it, there is an urgent need for calm reflection and a genuinely sustained, empathetic and open dialogue across boundaries of faith, ethnicity and culture.”

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However, some academics and religious leaders have expressed their concern over the funding and ethical stance of OCIS in regards to guests invited to the Centre, embroiling the heir to the throne in some controversy.

In response to the announcement that Indonesia’s Vice-President, Jusuf Kalla, has been invited to speak at OCIS on May 18, Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said that “the Patron, Director and Fellows of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies are giving a platform to a hypocrite and a fraud”.

Vice-President Kalla was recently implicated in the persecution of a Christian politician.