Camilla enjoys shopping in Malta

  • 29/11/2015
The Duchess of Cornwall takes a walking tour of the old town of Mdina in central Malta (AAP)
The Duchess of Cornwall takes a walking tour of the old town of Mdina in central Malta (AAP)

The Duchess of Cornwall enjoyed a spot of retail therapy after the serious business of pressing the flesh with Commonwealth leaders in Malta.

During a relaxed walkabout in the island's historic Mdina, Camilla could not resist popping into an artisan store where Prince Charles once shopped in 1968.

The heir to the throne was astonished to find that Greenhand, where he bought a suede belt and leather bag 47 years ago aged just 19, was still run by the same lady, Jane Attard.

"I'm 91," she told the Prince, who replied: "You're not! I'm nearly 70!"

While inside, Camilla browsed a number of hand-made lace tablecloths, telling the elderly shop owner and her son John, 58: "They're beautiful, absolutely beautiful."

Despite insisting on paying for the traditional Maltese lace table centrepiece, the Attard family gifted it to the royal couple after proudly showing them the letter they received from Charles's former equerry Sir David Checketts in 1968 commenting on the high quality of their wares.

Mrs Attard, who is also the oldest councillor in Malta, sold goods to Princess Anne in the 1960s too, including a hand-made suit.

The shopping trip came as Charles, 67, and Camilla, 68, enjoyed what aides described as the "rare treat" of being able to take in the local sights following the biannual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which came just days after a 12-day tour of New Zealand and Australia.

Taking a leisurely stroll from their boutique hotel, the five-star Xara Palace, they visited the 17th-century Metropolitan Cathedral, built on the remains of the original Norman cathedral founded by St Paul when he was shipwrecked on his way to Rome in 60AD.

Boasting huge frescoes on the ceilings depicting the life of the Apostle, the royal couple were given the grand tour by Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna.

He said afterwards: "The Prince was very interested in the heritage of the building. It's such an important place of worship because it is a living monument to the visit of St Paul who spent three months in Malta.

"Prince Charles really appreciated that we have preserved the building so well and that it is still used, not just for liturgy, but concerts and other events."

Although the sun was shining brightly, the chilly breeze prompted Camilla to cover her hair with her scarf as she joined her husband at one of Malta's most popular tourist attractions, the Veduta Tal-Mdina lookout, which boasts panoramic views of the island.

Along the route they shook hands with well-wishers, who had come as far and wide as Beijing and Belarus.

NZN