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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 19:33 GMT
Philip's belly-dancing 'insult'
The Queen and Prince Philip

Four belly dancers have told how they were "honoured to be insulted" by the Duke of Edinburgh during a royal visit to a Swansea primary school.

They turned out to meet the duke and the Queen during a tour of the city.

Belly dancer Beverly Richards said Prince Philip told them: "I thought Eastern women just sit around smoking pipes and eating sweets all day."

"I said 'we do that as well', and he looked us over and said, with a twinkle in his eye, 'I can see that'.

The foursome - Mrs Richards, 47, Rachael Barry, 45, Janet Chillcott, 49, and Alison Dugmore, 41 - are known as the Suhayla Dancers.

They were present as representatives of one of numerous local groups who use the community facilities at Swansea's St Thomas Community Primary School.

The Duke of Edinburgh at the LC in Swansea
To be honest it's an honour to be insulted by royalty. It is something to tell the grandchildren
Beverly Richards

"We were not insulted. I think that it's great he said it," Mrs Richards said.

"He is very down-to-earth. To be honest it's an honour to be insulted by royalty. It is something to tell the grandchildren.

"The Queen and Prince Philip were shown around the school hall and saw us dressed up and the Queen asked us what we do.

"I said 'we are an Eastern belly dance group' and the Queen said: 'That must be interesting'.

"We were stunned, then we all burst out laughing. It is the kind of thing my mum would say."

Mrs Richards added: "When you're a belly dancer, believe me, you have heard it all before. We have performed at charity events and circumcision celebrations to a cruise ship on the Nile.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at the LC in Swansea
The Queen kept her distance I suppose because she didn't want to get wet. To be honest if my wife was here she would have done the same
Chris Griffiths, surfer

"Some might say we are a little overweight, but we are certainly full of Eastern promise."

The royal couple were visiting Swansea to open the city's leisure centre after a 32m revamp

The Queen, who had opened the original council-run centre in 1977, unveiled a plaque during her visit to what is now named the LC.

The royal arrived by train and were greeted by children with disabilities at the station.

Riding a wave

At the LC, they were given a demonstration, and toured a children's play area, gym and the centre's major new pool, which boasts a giant undulating waterslide.

The duke also visited the centre's surf machine, thought to be the only one of its kind in the UK and one of only 50 worldwide.

Chris Griffiths, 41, of Upper Killay, Swansea, is a two-times European surf champion and was on hand to demonstrate the art of riding a wave to the royal couple.

"Prince Philip said 'You have obviously surfed in the ocean' and I told him I had surfed all my life and used to be a professional surfer," he said.

"'Good God', he said, 'you mean somebody paid you to do that?' He thought that was quite a quaint idea," Mr Griffiths added.

"But he came over as a very genuine person who could speak to anybody at his ease.

"The Queen kept her distance I suppose because she didn't want to get wet. To be honest if my wife was here she would have done the same."

The centre was shut in 2003 because of safety concerns and a report which concluded that 14m needed to be spent to keep it open.

The Queen and duke also had lunch at the Guildhall as guests of Swansea County Council.

It was the Queen's first official visit to Wales since she opened the third session of the Welsh assembly in June 2007.



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