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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Herm ready for first royal visit
by Jonathan Morris
BBC News Online South West

The island was bought by Guernsey after World War II
The islanders of one of the UK's smallest outposts, Herm, have been waiting 800 years for this occasion.

On Wednesday the Prince of Wales will become the first royal visitor to set foot on the island, population 55.

The occasion is to mark 800 years since the Channel Islands pledged their allegiance to the Crown, rather than their nearer neighbours in France.

At Herm School, which has two girls and seven boys aged four to nine, pupils are taking the visit in their stride.

Teacher in charge Janet Sandrey said: "It's a close-run thing at the moment between the royal visit and the latest hatching of some chickens in their list of priorities."

The island is one of the smallest Channel Islands
The children attend the school until the age of nine when they go to a weekly boarding school in Guernsey.

"We're just hoping the weather holds out," said Mrs Sandrey, who comes in by boat every day from Guernsey.

"The forecast is horrendous and the boat may not be able to get into the harbour."

A decision is due to be taken later on Wednesday on whether it is safe for the prince to land at Rosaire Steps at the harbour.

We were very surprised when we heard Prince Charles was coming here
Manager Adrian Heyworth
Adrian Heyworth, who manages the island with wife Pennie, said: "The prince is very interested in seeing around the island because it is very similar to the Scilly Isles which is part of the Duchy of Cornwall.

"I believe he is interested to learn how this island is managed."

The prince is due to arrive at Rosaire Steps to meet all 55 island residents under the flagpole on the lawn of the White House Hotel, the island's only one. The 500-acre island also has only one pub and one main shop.

From there he will walk up the hill to the Norman church of St Tugual's, the island's only church, where Mr Heyworth or his wife give sermons on a Sunday. There is no vicar.

The 75 minute visit is part of a two-day excursion around the Channel Islands which were part of the lands of the Dukes of Normandy when William the Conqueror extended his domain by conquering England.

No cars are allowed on the island
In 1204 King John lost Normandy, but the islanders, many of whom had landed interests in England, decided to align themselves with the English.

And there they have remained - bar occupation by the Germans during World War II.

Today they are counted as part of the British Isles, but not of the UK or the EU, with their own governments and generous taxation systems.

After World War II Herm was left derelict and abandoned until the Guernsey authorities bought it from the Crown - the fee has never been disclosed.

Herm, unlike its bigger, feudally-run neighbour Sark, comes under Guernsey's jurisdiction.

Peter and Jenny Wood were chosen as the first tenants of the island in 1949 and their daughter Pennie Heyworth - with husband Adrian - continue the family link with the island.

Mr Heyworth said: "We were very surprised when we heard Prince Charles was coming here.

"Normally we just get passed by because we do not have our own parliament and are more of a commercial undertaking."

He added: "We are absolutely thrilled. It's a tremendous event for the island community.

"We are, after all, the jewel in the crown of the Channel Islands."

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