Prince Charles has worn a face covering in public for the first time as he and his wife Camilla carried out engagements in Northern Ireland.
The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall travelled to Belfast on Wednesday for a day of engagements, including thanking nurses for completing their training early to help with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The pair were seen stepping out of their car with their coverings on, but were able to keep them off for the majority of their engagements.
Posting on Twitter, Clarence House explained the coverings were “made by seamstresses who have been supported through the Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme”.
The post added: “Charity Turquoise Mountain was set up by The Prince of Wales in 2006 to protect heritage at risk and to provide training and jobs around the world.”
Camilla, 72, has previously been seen wearing coverings at her engagements, but this is the first time regulations have meant Charles, 71, needed to don one for a visit.
The couple spent the day at various spots in Belfast, including the Ulster Museum where they saw an exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale as well as a replica of the Iron Throne from the HBO show Game Of Thrones.
Game Of Thrones was filmed in the region.
As the Prince and the duchess posed next to the handwoven replica, Charles joked: “A frame of thrones.”
Before their museum tour, the couple spoke to nurses from the Open University and Queen’s University Belfast outside about their experiences during the pandemic.
WATCH: Royal finances reveal two-day trip cost £210,000
The facemasks worn today were made by seamstresses who have been supported through the Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme. 🧵— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) September 30, 2020
Charity Turquoise Mountain was set up by The Prince of Wales in 2006 to protect heritage at risk and to provide training and jobs around the world. pic.twitter.com/vYaHlQngbM
Fiona Pierce, who is going to qualify as a midwife at Royal Victoria Hospital, said: “It’s been a different end to the course than what we envisioned but we all met it with great enthusiasm and so excited to be recognised as being able to support the workforce.”
Bronach Best, who works in mental health, said: “I think the public have been great, there was one occasion when I was going shopping in my uniform, and met a mum with her son who was wearing a Spiderman costume, and she said, ‘look there is a real life hero there’.
“It’s nice to be appreciated.”
After touring the museum together, and meeting staff and volunteers who helped get it ready for its reopening after lockdown, the couple split up for separate engagements in the afternoon.
Camilla visited Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid where she met staff, supporters and service users.
The duchess has made the issue of domestic abuse a key part of her royal agenda, and has worked with several charities to break the stigma of talking about it, and help tackle it.
Northern Ireland is understood to have the worst rate of domestic violence of any European country and between April and June recorded the equivalent of 91 incidents a day . Camilla heard stories from survivors during the visit.
She listened to one woman, who stayed anonymous, who recounted her story of being trafficked to Northern Ireland from Somalia, whose former husband killed four of their six children.
She cried as she told her story and then thanked the duchess, saying: “Thank you, thank you for coming to listen. I am very very happy to see you today.”
Camilla smiled and said: “No thank you for telling us”, and made a point of going up to her afterwards and telling her: “You are so very, very brave.”
She also recommitted to doing all she can to help after expressing her sorrow at the increase in domestic violence cases during lockdown.
Asked if she thought it had got worse, she said: “I am afraid so. I would like to say it hasn’t but I am afraid to say that it has.
“We have all got to do our bit to try and break the corrosive silence around the issue. I certainly am trying to do everything I can.
“Like today, when we are allowed out, I would like to do more. The bravery of the women today was remarkable. I was incredibly moved.”
Meanwhile, Charles visited Henderson Foodservice in Co Antrim, to thank staff for keeping stores supplied during the pandemic.
He visited one of the stores main warehouses and heard how the company maintained food supplies and diversified to include home deliveries.
On Twitter Clarence House said the company had “taken part in a number of voluntary projects with five Belfast food banks and helped to provide meals to hospital staff in the Republic”.