Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, headed back to London from Wales a day before, but he was thinking about her during his visit to the Corn Exchange in Crickhowell, a small Welsh town.
Turning down the chance to taste some chocolate at a zero-waste store called Natural Weigh, he declared, “It’s my darling wife who likes chocolate!” Instead he opted for organic cannellini beans. (The store sells everything from bio-friendly dish liquid to organic beans, nuts, pasta and herbs. Customers must either bring their own containers or use the store’s compostable or reusable ones.)
A point of pride for locals, the Corn Exchange is a restored pub that’s been turned into apartments and space for three local businesses to sell their goods. The main street in Crickhowell has no international or even national brands on it.
When the pub was set to be sold to be used as a supermarket, locals protested and instead bought the building. Then, they set about converting it to the businesses and apartments above “to compliment the town and add vibrancy to the street,” said Tim Jones, who helped coordinate the effort.
First off, Prince Charles took a sip of vegan Sunshine Lemon and Pea soup, smiled and exclaimed, “It’s seriously good!” The soup was served up by Darryl Evans in Odonnell bakehouses.
At a shop called The Emporium, Charles was wide-eyed at the array of antiques, glassware and baskets. Admiring a soup terrine shapes like a fish that owner Lindsey Perks bought, he said, “I could spend hours browsing in here.” When she told him she picks up potential goods “anywhere and everywhere,” Charles joked if that included when she walked into someone’s house.
As an advocate for reusing buildings and for sustainable living and food production, Charles was clearly delighted by the visit and thrilled to support and bond with the business owners —and they felt the same.
“We’re very aware of the prince’s interest in regeneration and sustainable high streets and are delighted that he’s here today and decided to open it. It puts the icing on the cake for us,” Jones said.
Perks, who runs The Emporium with her husband, Spencer, described Charles as “down to earth and so lovely to talk to.”
Charles also paid the Masefields of Natural Weigh a big compliment. “He liked the system and the range and choice [of Natural Weigh],” Robin said. It was really great for all the work that’s gone into the building to have the Prince of Wales come.” And Chloe added that “he’s really friendly and personable. It has been so exciting — a bit of a whirlwind. Everyone’s so excited about it and positive.”
As he left, Charles gave “many congratulations” to those responsible for saving The Corn Exchange building and “finding a remarkable way to bring it back to life.” He praised so many who had invested time and money into “making this possible. And above all retaining the remarkable essence of Crickhowell, which makes it so very special.”