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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 15:35 GMT
Prince declines to wear turban
Samar Singh Kalyan, head of the village
The turban stayed off the prince's head
The Prince of Wales declined to wear a head-dress given to him as a gift from a village chief during his Indian tour.

Prince Charles was showered with marigolds and blessed when he visited the Kutail Gamri community of 500 people in Haryana.

The village Sarpanch Samar Singh Kalyan gave him the turban or pagri as a mark of respect.

But the prince gave it to his equerry for safe keeping choosing not to wear it during his visit.

The village chief's nephew Nabheet Kalyan said: "It's fine, that's the way we show respect to him.

"It's a personal thing if he feels he doesn't want to keep it on his head.

"He showed respect. We would have loved it if he had put it on."

A Clarence House spokeswoman said the prince had not been aware of the significance that the people had attributed to it.

Immunisation drive

The prince met the village's 20 midwives as he saw how the charitable and spiritual organisation the Arpana Trust is working with locals to educate them in skills such as midwifery.

Anne Robinson, who works for the trust, said girls were now forming groups to learn new skills.

"They didn't have any self confidence. But now there are 20 adolescent girls' groups," she said.

The prince was also blessed by 70-year-old Soma Kalyan who wished him health and courage as she adorned him with marigolds.

Prince Charles' visit was also aimed at helping a campaign to eradicate polio in India by the end of next year, according to the UK's Department for International Development.

Health workers hope he can help raise awareness ahead of a countrywide immunisation drive next month when more than 100 million children are expected to be vaccinated against the disease from 6 November.

India has a poor record for polio as it alone accounts for 83% of new cases, according to the World Health Organisation.

Charles arrived in India on Tuesday for a nine-day tour, his first to India in 11 years.

Later on Friday he was due to fly to Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan.

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