GEORGE TOWN, Nov 7 – Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, began their maiden visit to Penang by visiting places of worship in George Town, the UNESCO World Heritage site.
The British royal couple is on a one-day visit to Penang, which was originally named “Prince of Wales Island“, with their first stopover at the St George’s Church, the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia which was built in 1818.
Upon the arrival at the church at 10.05 am, the royal entourage was greeted by St George’s Church, Penang’s Bishop Charles Samuel before they spent 20 minutes admiring the church’s new pipe organ inside the church which was declared a national heritage in 2007.
Prince Charles and Camilla were also presented with an oil painting in conjunction with the church’s bicentenary celebration before they proceeded to visit the Kapitan Keling Mosque which was only a kilometre away.
Built in 1801 by Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers, Kapitan Keling Mosque located at the junction of Lebuh Buckingham and Lebuh Pitt, is one of the largest mosques in Penang Island which was built according to the Indo-Moorish structure.
Earlier, hundreds of people from all walks of life holding the Malaysian and United Kingdom flags, had gathered along the streets under tight security to catch a glimpse of the British royal couple and some were lucky enough to shake his hand.
At the mosque, the royal couple was welcomed with a kompang troupe, a traditional Malay musical instrument, before they were greeted by the chairman of the mosque, Datuk Meera Mydin Mastan who later accompanied the British royal visitors to participate in a tree planting event to commemorate their visit here.
After spending about 15 minutes at the mosque, they then signed the guest book before leaving on foot to the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple, about 100 metres away.
Han Jiang Ancestral Temple or previously known as Teochew Kongsi located in Chulia Street was built in 1890 by the Teochew migrants from Chaozhou prefecture, on the eastern part of Guangdong province in China.
The Prince and Duchess spent about 15 minutes enjoying the lion dance troupe, a traditional Chinese cultural dance in the temple before they strolled across the street to visit the Sri Mahamariamman Temple at Queen Street.
Accompanied by Minister-in-Attendance Datuk Seri S. K. Devamany, who is also Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, the royal couple toured the temple.
Sri Mahamariamman temple is the oldest temple in George Town which was built in 1833 and was extensively renovated in 1933 with a prominent dome and entrance tower.
The royal couple then proceeded to visit the Seven Terraces, a contiguous row of Anglo-Chinese terrace houses located just behind the Goddess of Mercy Temple at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling here.
The visit of Prince Charles and Camilla to Malaysia is part of a 11-day tour of Their Royal Highnesses to Singapore, Malaysia and India from Oct 30 to Nov 9.