01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Prince of Wales and Camilla sweat it out in Zanzibar 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Prince of Wales and Camilla sweat it out in Zanzibar

Charles and Camilla arriving at Zanzibar airport.

Seeing this photograph of Charles and Camila in Zanzibar brings memories flooding back.  First time visitors to the island, nothing can prepare you for the extreme humidity and heat.  And they are actually wearing jackets poor things?!  'Hot' does not even nearly begin to describe it.

In 1999, my husband and I came from February in England to Zanzibar on honeymoon - I nearly died (not literally, but felt pretty close thanks to a bout of food poisoning).  I'd never been far beyond Europe in my life, or to a developing country.  Not at all well travelled, it all came as a huge shock.  Pale and sweating, after two weeks in un-air conditioned 'eco' huts and bandas, we caught the ferry over to the mainland, to Dar es Salaam,  in order to start a new life in the tropics.  At the time, I can't understand why it never occurred to me that we must have been stark, staring mad to attempt such a transition.  12 years later and still in East Africa, the culture shock of first arriving in Zanzibar is still as fresh and clear in my mind as if it were yesterday.

The Telegraph article did say that Camilla had to withdraw from her tour round the Sultan's palace in order to have 'a little rest' for 5 minutes, but otherwise she seems to have coped admirably.  I'm sure that the pearl encrusted jacket/dress she was wearing was a bit to heavy though - and doesn't look like a natural fabric (sack the stylist) - perhaps she could have taken a leaf out of Kate's book and chosen more of a breezy, summer frock.  It's always a tricky balance in strictly Muslim Zanzibar and Dar, but cool linen shirts and unlined long skirts were my staple in those days.  It was always agony to be so hot and yet compelled to cover up at the same time. 

They even threw themselves into the dancing - well done!

Charles dancing/throwing shapes in 90 degree heat
They were then due to attend a garden party at the British High Commissioner's residence in Dar yesterday, which would have been be very civilised - barring the toxic smell of effluent that invariably washes over that garden from the direction of Salander Bridge and the estuary.

My husband grew up in Mombasa.  His Dad's advice for any lengthy, formal occasion in the tropics (and he endured quite a few) was always, "sit or stand absolutely stock still, as still as you can - then you can cope.  Fidgeting just makes the heat worse."

Dark/airless gift shop in Zanzibar
The dark, airless gift shops are also typical and haven't changed in decades.  I spent many an hour in these places, desperately figuring out how these sort of christmas presents might go down in wintry England.

I gather that there was a lot of brow mopping between the royal couple.  Camilla's hair would have started to flop as sweat tricked down her back and thighs.  My guess is that the royal couple will be relieved to be boarding a plane to the cooler climbes of Kilimanjaro today.

Emerging from the House of Wonders, beginning to look dishevelled

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