The Prince's two-day trip to Fiji included a beachside visit with local schoolchildren
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Charles gave the attentive pupils a lesson on coral reefs

11 MARCH 2005

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Prince Charles traded the furnishings of the Palace for a straw mat on Friday, sitting cross-legged on a sunny Fiji beach as he chatted to a group of schoolchildren about the local ecosystem.

The lesson on the importance of coral reefs, given to about two dozen pupils wearing green and white uniforms, was just one of many events during his whirlwind two-day tour of the South Pacific country.

During his visit, Charles also took a ride in a glass-bottomed boat, sampled a powerful local tipple called kava, and met Fiji's oldest citizen. And the heir to the throne won't be going home empty-handed, as he was presented with a whale's tooth during a festive ceremony featuring dancers in traditional garb.

Charles, dressed in a linen suit and wide-brimmed hat, was clearly attempting to stay cool in the sweltering heat. "It's lovely," he said of the trip, "but I'm trying to get used to the temperature."