Charles enjoys local beer in sweltering Devon sunshine

The Prince of Wales enjoyed a pint of local beer at a pub in the sweltering Devon sunshine, while the Duchess of Cornwall kept cool under a parasol.

Charles and Camilla were visiting the Duke of York Inn in the village of Iddesleigh on Wednesday afternoon, where temperatures soared to 31C.

Camilla was greeted in the village by author Sir Michael Morpurgo, who was inspired to write his novel War Horse after meeting First World War veteran Wilfred Ellis in the pub almost 30 years ago.

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She spoke with Sir Michael about the book, which has been turned into a play by the National Theatre and a film by Steven Spielberg, inside the thatched pub.

Charles then arrived and was handed a pint of Bays Topsail, a local 4% beer, by landlord John Pittam before heading to join his wife at a lunch club for local elderly residents in the pub’s garden.

Mr Pittam, 61, told the prince: “This is on the house. Local Devon beer.”

After arriving at the lunch, Charles asked what was on the menu for those attending and was told it was fish and vegetables.

He replied: “Broad beans are one of my favourite things. It is quite warm. Have you all had some beer as well?”

Charles discussed the importance of people connecting with their food and asked whether local children grew vegetables at school.

Charles with Michael Morpurgo
Charles with Michael Morpurgo (David Rose/Daily Telegraph/PA)

He said: “Do they have the opportunity to grow their own vegetables in schools because that’s the other way of trying to reconnect.

“I always wish they could keep a chicken or two or a pig but it is always health and safety that wrecks it.”

The pub’s lunch club was set up around 25 years ago, when the then-landlord offered local residents a subsidised two course meal plus tea or coffee.

This was to thank them for any inconvenience occurred due to people visiting the pub parking outside homes in the village.

Mr Pittam continued the tradition when he took over the pub 10 years ago, with people gathering for the £7.50 meal every two weeks.

The meal on Wednesday was the first time the group had met since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sir Michael wrote about the lunch, as well as the sense of community in the village, for a newspaper article as well as a piece on the BBC that was seen by Clarence House and Camilla.

Charles meets community groups and young people in Victoria Park
Charles meets community groups and young people in Victoria Park (David Rose/Daily Telegraph/PA)

“Her Royal Highness was so pleased at what we try to do to support the elderly population, she contacted Sir Michael and said they must visit the Duke of York,” Mr Pittam said.

“I’m absolutely delighted that they came to our beautiful village. It is the icing on the cake for us.”

Speaking about the beer he handed the prince, Mr Pittam said: “It is a local Devon beer, brewed in Paignton.

“It is our bestselling ale and it is my favourite tipple as well.

“He wasn’t expecting a pint, he would have perhaps preferred a half.

“He said it was absolutely wonderful because I think he was quite thirsty.”

Camilla spoke to Sir Michael about War Horse, which she has chosen for the third season of The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room.

She launched the initiative earlier this year following positive feedback to reading lists she published at Easter and in the summer of 2020.

Royal visit to Devon and Cornwall
The Duchess of Cornwall meets author Sir Michael Morpurgo (Chris Jackson/PA)

War Horse is a fictional account of the First World War, focused on a horse named Joey who served at the front lines.

Sir Michael described the village as “deeply rural and remote” and paid tribute to Charles’ passion for the environment, which he likened to Camilla’s work with books.

He told how villagers were “kind and thoughtful to each other”, particularly during the pandemic.

“People here are really pleased that these people who are very busy have taken the time to come to this little place in the middle of nowhere,” Sir Michael said.

“It is really good that they came to see the community. I’m really thrilled, it has been a real joy for everyone.”

Sir Michael said Camilla knew War Horse well, as well as the effect it had on her grandchildren.

He described how children’s books are often given “low status” but Camilla was “shining a light” on their importance.

The visit to Iddesleigh marked the final engagement of Charles and Camilla’s three-day tour of Devon and Cornwall.