Prince Charles, former Hong Kong governor arrive in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Prince Charles and former Hong Kong Gov. Chris Patten arrived by royal yacht in the Philippines today, 2 1/2 days after their somber departure from Britain’s last colony in Asia.
Patten, his wife and daughters quietly left the yacht Britannia and were taken away in a van. A private citizen now, Patten did not respond to questions about his reaction to Hong Kong’s first days under Chinese rule.
Charles left two hours later for a brief visit to Manila, which officials say is intended to reaffirm Britain’s commitment to Asia following Hong Kong’s turnover Tuesday after 156 years of British colonial rule.
Carrying an umbrella to shield himself from a driving rain like that which fell two days earlier during the Brittania’s departure from Hong Kong, the prince briefly chatted with welcoming British schoolchildren before being driven to the presidential palace.
The Britannia got a warm welcome in Manila, with a 21-gun salute. President Fidel Ramos ordered a special cleanup of the stretch of polluted Manila Bay where the yacht docked.
Accompanying the Britannia were three former Hong Kong patrol boats being sold by Britain to the Philippines _ itself a former Spanish and American colony that was occupied briefly by Britain in the 1760s.
The visit signifies that even after Hong Kong’s handover, ``Britain continues to have a strong commitment to this part of the world,″ British Ambassador Adrian Thorpe said earlier.
Neither Charles nor Patten was scheduled to make public statements during their visit. Charles, who was to fly to Britain after his 10-hour Manila visit, was first to meet President Ramos at Malacanang Palace.
There, the prince, a conservationist, also will be presented with two Philippine tarsiers, the world’s smallest primate.
The tiny monkey-like animals with giant round eyes have been declared endangered but little has been done for their protection.
The two ``sort of tamed″ tarsiers were flown to Manila from their native Bohol province for the presentation to Charles and then will be flown back to a new preserve created by a conservation group, officials said.
The group hopes that publicity from Charles’ visit will encourage conservation efforts.