Jungle Prince

17th January 1997 at 00:00
Undercurrents of the recent television poll on the monarchy and the Prince of Wales's reported attempts to refurbish his image washed through the Prince's Trust conference on supported study (or as they call it south of the border, study support).

Arwyn Thomas, director of the Prince's Trust Action project, which funds supported study schemes, welcomed the 300 participants to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre: "I am relieved you are all here."

The Prince himself seemed surprised by the laugh he got when referring to his only attempt at being a teacher: "In 1966, I went to Papua New Guinea and in the middle of a jungle was asked to talk to a group of children about the British Constitution."

The apparent impermanency of the constitution may have prompted the mirth but there was a disapproving murmur when the Prince wondered whether his audience knew the location of Papua New Guinea. Clearly, there is no need for supported study in geography.

Robin Lingard, who chairs the Highland committee of the Prince's Trust Action but is better known as a campaigner for the Highland University, had the trickiest brief of the day. He was asked to speak for as long as it took the Prince to arrive, or, as he put it in engineer's jargon: "I am an expansion joint."

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