The Prince of Wales talks to an elderly fisherman whose boat was destroyed by the tsunami. . "All I have done is interrupt their very hard work," he said
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A Hindu priest applies a "sindoor" to the royal visitor's forehead. The mark is intended to bring good luck

1 MARCH 2005

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Prince Charles has been doing his bit to boost morale among the beleaguered people of Sri Lanka. The future king jetted into the country on Monday in an effort to raise the spirits of those struggling to recover from the tsunami disaster.

Local people in the village of Navallady seemed delighted with their VIP guest, eagerly showing him around the reconstruction work. The Prince of Wales was even treated to a Hindu blessing in which a good luck mark called a "sindoor" was painted on his forehead.

With a garland of bright flowers around his neck, he chatted with relief workers and villagers still working to clear debris from the tragedy. And after offering his sympathies to one woman whose house was completely destroyed in the event, the Prince admitted to feeling humbled by their strength and dignity. "All I have done is interrupt their very hard work," he said.

It was the first time Charles had visited the former British colony since 1998, when he joined in celebrations to mark 50 years of independence. But despite all the excitement that surrounded the royal visit, not everyone seemed to be entirely sure of his identity. "I think it's very good that the president has come," said fisherman Arumugan Thavarajah.

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