Like troubadours traversing the United Kingdom, we were guests of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales on Sunday, January 19, 2020, as part of programs in the sidelines of the first UK-Africa Investment Summit.
Prince Charles, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth 11, was hosting President Muhammadu Buhari at Dumfries House, in Scotland.
The journey in Nigerian Air Force 1 jet took one hour. From Stansted Airport, to Prestwick Airport, in Glasgow. A 30 minutes drive through the scenic and idyllic settings then took you to Dumfries House.
As someone visiting Scotland for the first time, I reviewed my informal association with the country. Sir Walter Scott was one of my favorite authors as a young man, passionately in love with English Literature. Macbeth, the play by William Shakespeare, had its setting in Scotland. And there was King Bruce, a king of Scotland inspired by a mere spider. And then, the salubrious air of Scotland. It was in relation with that country that I first heard the word ‘salubrious’ ages ago.
Dumfries House. I saw it with infinite pleasure. Built in the 1750s, it is said that the original furniture are still in place. And they are! I sat on them gingerly, with a sense of awe.
Glasgow has a population of just 598, 830 people, according to 2018 figures. The entire Scotland itself has only 5.47 million people. No wonder there is so much sanity, and the air remains salubrious. Crowding, over population, is enemy of sanity anywhere.
Dumfries House, built originally for William Dairymple, the fifth Earl of Dumfries, had passed to few other hands, but is now owned by The Prince’s Foundation, a charity, which maintains it, and opens it to visitors on guided tours. It is also a hospitality and wedding venue.
It was in that historic house that Prince Charles hosted President Buhari, and his team.
At the end of the meeting, Prince Charles had handshakes with some members of the delegation. He asked me a question as he shook my hands. The question? I won’t tell you. You like to know everything. And as a reporter, I had a few questions of my own. Wish I could ask. What are they? Won’t tell you.
The weather was 4 degrees in wintry Scotland when we arrived. Forecast said it was going to drop to zero degree by nightfall. No wonder I was glad to show a clean pair of heels at the end of the visit, despite the lovely scenery of Glasgow, and the salubrious air of Scotland.