Charles and Camilla raise a dram at Burns Cottage for trust’s anniversary

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall sampled haggis and sipped on a dram at the birthplace of Robert Burns to celebrate the National Trust for Scotland’s 90th birthday.

Charles and Camilla visited Burns Cottage in Alloway, South Ayrshire, where they viewed precious artefacts belonging to the renowned poet including the original Auld Lang Syne manuscript, the Kilmarnock edition of his first published works and a pair of Burns’ hand-knitted socks.

The couple were met by the Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Sheriff Iona Sara McDonald, in Alloway Main Street on Thursday and were introduced to Philip Long OBE, chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland, Caroline Smith, operations manager of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and Christopher Waddell, visitor services manager at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

The royal couple, who are known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, then met with local residents and business owners from the village.

Royal visit to Ayrshire
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, during a visit to Alloway Main Street (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Alloway in 1995 before the trust took over the cottage in 2008 to restore it to what it is today.

Speaking about the visit of Charles and Camilla, Simon Ferguson, owner of Alloway’s Post Office and Village Store, said: “Prince Charles was very charming when he came to speak with me at the shop.

“He was very relaxing to talk to and we spoke about the different local suppliers we have to the business.

“My daughter also offered him some local tablet which I think he appreciated.”

Next door to the shop at Poet’s Corner Cafe, staff also greeted the royal couple.

Local resident and waitress Sarah Ferguson, 18, said: “I spoke with Charles and Camilla about the homemade shortbread that we make at the cafe and how popular the place is with both tourists and locals.

“It was good to welcome them to Alloway.”

Royal visit to Ayrshire
Charles and Camilla take a look at the original manuscript of Auld Lang Syne (Jane Barlow/PA)

The couple then met with local Ayrshire food and craft producers at the village hall.

Exhibits included Dunlop Dairy cheese products, Corrie Mains free-range eggs, Mossgiel organic milk and Balmoral bonnets.

Children from Alloway Primary School also met the royals to mark the event before the couple sampled haggis and whisky while hearing a song played on a fiddle owned by Robert Burns’ dance teacher and possibly played by Burns himself – ‘The Gregg Violin’.

Royal visit to Ayrshire
Charles meets members of the local community during a visit to Alloway (Jane Barlow/PA)

The duchess, dressed in Lord of the Isles tartan, then parted for another engagement as Charles visited the village’s Education Centre where he met with volunteers and members of NTS’s staff.

John Scally, a trustee of Friends of the National Libraries (FNL), discussed Burns’ works with the royal couple during their visit.

He said: “It is such an honour to have the Prince of Wales as a patron of FNL and to have met with him today.”

FNL is leading a bid to save Honresfield Library – a collection of works including an early volume of poems by Robert Burns in his own hand – containing some of his earliest recorded literary works and the only extant letter to his father.

The charity is hoping to raise £15 million to secure ownership of the collection.

Mr Scally added: “Prince Charles said today that he was going to donate to our campaign which was some wonderful news to hear.”

Charles and Camilla had earlier visited Dumfries House in Ayrshire where they unfurled a giant knitted art installation.