King and Queen meet old friends and new in London’s Covent Garden

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The King and Queen have met performers, traders and schoolchildren in central London as part of their first joint engagement since the coronation weekend.

Charles and Camilla visited Covent Garden on Wednesday to celebrate the 390th anniversary of St Paul’s Church, known as the Actors’ Church, before meeting crowds and performers outside the Royal Opera House.

They first spoke with schoolchildren from nearby St Clement Danes Church of England Primary School, who waved Union flags and shook hands with the King and Queen as they stood either side of the pathway leading up to the church.

The King and Queen then paused to briefly watch part of a Punch and Judy puppet show on the church’s stairs before heading inside.

Royal visit to Covent Garden
The King and Queen in the Covent Garden Apple Market (Daniel Leal/PA)

The group was established in 2019 and works with women who have experienced domestic abuse.

The Queen was welcomed by the women wearing theatre masks, and was heard asking one member of the group if the drama classes were helping her and how long she had been coming to the church.

Before leaving the King and Queen examined the church’s visitor book which had previously been signed by the late Queen Elizabeth II when she visited in 1988.

The King took time to inspect the book before signing it himself.

Royal visit to Covent Garden
Members of the public await the arrival of the King and Queen (Daniel Leal/PA)

Meanwhile, the Queen greeted visitors and joked about the weather with an Australian tourist, who said they had “brought the weather with them”.

Once at the market, the pair chatted with surprised traders and complimented their handmade items.

Afshan Shamas, 57, showed the King her handmade jewellery and made the King laugh by offering him a crown she had made.

She told the PA news agency: “I told him about my background, 20 years in banking.

“I told him I had a spare crown and he asked if I made everything (at the stall).

“A meet and greet was so lovely.”

Royal visit to Covent Garden
The King meeting children outside St Paul’s Church (Daniel Leal/PA)

He joked: “I did not sell him anything unfortunately, but hopefully I will have a big order come through.”

The King and Queen took extra time to meet visitors at the edge of Covent Garden before wrapping up their visit by meeting artists and staff from the Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera and the orchestra of the Royal Opera House.

The King became patron of the Royal Opera in 1975 when he was the Prince of Wales.

He later became the president of the Royal Ballet in 2003 and patron of the Royal Opera House in 2009.

Outside the Royal Opera House, the King and Queen met choristers Amanda Baldwin and Luke Price, who performed at the coronation concert at Windsor Castle.

The King and Queen at St Paul's Church (Daniel Leal/PA)
The King and Queen at St Paul’s Church (Daniel Leal/PA)

Ms Baldwin was left stunned after the King recognised her from her time at the Royal College of Music and she suspected she had not met him since 1997.

She told the PA news agency: “He actually said ‘you’re ex-RCM aren’t you?’.

“Which was incredible.

“I don’t really know how he remembered that information about an individual so that was incredible so we laughed about that.

“It was a real privilege to meet him.”

The singer added she used to see the King regularly when he was the Prince of Wales and she worked at the Welsh National Opera.

Meanwhile, the Queen told the performers she has had the chance to rewatch the coronation concert.

Mr Price said: “The Queen said she had watched (the concert) back on TV so she managed to see it back properly.”

The King and Queen also greeted students from the Royal Ballet School before waving at fans as they drove away from Covent Garden.

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