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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Prince ends summer tour
Prince of Wales
Charles donned a white coat at a Llanberis factory
The Prince of Wales got behind the drumkit as he completed the final leg of his traditional summer tour to Wales with a three-stop visit across the north of the country.

Prince Charles rounded off his travels at a Caernarfon music school, where he bashed the cymbals to the amusement of percussion students.

"They're always trying to get me to hammer these things," he said at the William Matthias Music Centre, where he met some of 140 pupils.

Earlier, he had visited a stately home at Conway and a factory in Llanberis.

Camilla Parker Bowles
Camilla Parker Bowles: Accompanying the prince to Wales
Charles' Wales-wide prilgrimage has become an annual fixture on the royal calendar, and he usually enjoys a varied cultural programme.

Ferried by helicopter, Monday's leg began with a visit to the restored Elizabethan town house Plās Mawr in Conway.

The prince listened intently as he was given a tour of the 16th century property, built for Welsh merchant Robert Wynn.

He also joinde the community's business leaders in a discussion on promoting enterprise in the region.

'Down to earth'

Later, he learned about drug-testing equipment used in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and built by Llanberis technology firm Euro DPC.

Charles cut a cake to celebrate the factory's ten years in the town before unveiling a plaque and giving a speech which he began and ended in Welsh.

Charles hits the drums at William Matthias Music Centre
Charles made some noise at Caernarfon
It is the largest single private sector employer in the area with over 300 employees, some of whom relocated with the company from its original base at Witney in Oxfordshire.

Caernarfon AM Dafydd Wigley said it was "the largest factory in my constituency and is planning expansion, which is greatly welcomed.

"If this company can have their European manufacturing headquarter at Llanberis, on the foothills of Snowdon, so can any other company."

One worker described the prince as "lovely, really down to earth".

Cello player

Prince Charles rounded off the day at the music centre of excellence, where he listened to Bangor cello student Elin Saran Williams, 10, play Walking In The Air.

He revealed how he had been inspired to take up the instrument after attending a concert by legendary cellist Jacqueline DuPre.

"I was so inspired by her playing and her sound - that's what made me take it up," he said as he tapped his foot, before lauding Wales' "incredibly good" jazz and brass bands.

He left Caernarfon to loud cheers and flag-waving from well-wishing royal supporters in the town's Church Street.

But the annual sortie into Wales this summer had been overshadowed by criticism from senior Labour peer Lord Haskins.

He told the first Labour rural conference in Shropshire that Prince Charles belonged to that group of farmers who "look backwards and not forwards".

See also:

07 Jul 02 | Wales
21 Jul 00 | Wales
19 Jul 02 | Wales
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