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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Warm welcome for Prince in countryside
The Prince of Wales during his visit to the Hastoe Housing Project
The Prince of Wales toured Cerne Abbas
Prince Charles has made his first official trip to the countryside since the leak of his controversial letter in favour of the Countryside Alliance.

Writing to the prime minister last month, he said people in the countryside were treated worse than those who were gay or black.

The comments appeared popular with the crowds that came out to greet Prince Charles during his tour of Dorset.

The Prince was in the county to open a housing development and unveil a stone obelisk to mark the World Heritage Site.

The Prince of Wales during his visit to Cerne Abbas
The Prince visited a housing project

He began his day of engagements at Cerne Abbas, Dorset, where he met officials and workers involved in a housing association scheme for local people.

Hundreds of people turned out to welcome him, with many saying they were there to thank him for writing to ministers about rural issues.

Resident Jenny Mortimer said: "He walked along and I just said 'Thank you so much for all your letters'.

"He stopped and he said 'That's all right madam'."

'Important visit'

Vicky and Jody Moore, who also live in the village, were also impressed by the Prince.

"It's nice to think people like him will come out and support us," said Mrs Moore.

Sue Foulser, another Cerne Abbas resident, said: "The visit is important for us because there is a certain sense of neglect about the countryside."

Prince Charles later visited Lulworth Cove, on the Dorset coast, to unveil the World Heritage Site award plaque.

The beauty spot is part of the 95-mile Jurassic Coast through Devon and Dorset, along which 185 million years of earth history can be found spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

It was awarded World Heritage Site status last year putting the coast on a par with the Grand Canyon and the Barrier Reef.

Later, in east Devon, the Prince unveiled a five-metre high obelisk to mark the western end of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

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The BBC's Jon Kay
"His press office insist the leaked letters are now a closed matter"

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27 Sep 02 | England
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