On his first day in Vietnam, the Danish Prince found himself in familiar territory visiting poor Khmer minorities on the Mekong Delta tending their land.
The prince, a farmer himself, was in familiar territory exploring agricultural projects in the Mekong Delta, but the children patiently waiting to see a real prince seemed unable to point out the Prince among the visiting Danish delegation.
Prince Joachim in his t-shirt was just as sweaty and his shoelaces just as muddy as the rest of the delegation.
He did however arrive with a police escort and his bodyguard was always close by him, so not knowing who he was the prince looked more like a volunteer helper than a regal member of the Danish Royal Family.
Bored the press
Prince Joachim visited a pig farm as part of his itinerary and did not restrict his questions to the normal courteous homilies one might expect from royalty.
The Prince, who has an agricultural education and manages the Schackenborg estate whose primary function is agricultural production, could not hide his own interest in life on the land.
“How many of the pigs survive birth? How old are they? When exactly are they taken away? Where do they go?” the Prince enquired.
The questions kept coming and Prince Joachim listened carefully to the answers – something that the journalists, who normally follow the prince closely, did not.
The journalists instead, realising that the Prince would keep asking questions for quite some time politely chose to move away to discuss other subjects.
Later when the Prince visited a household of women weavers, he showed the same kind of interest and wanted to know about the production in some detail.
But his tight schedule took no account for an attention to detail, with his entourage constantly looking at their watches.
“Now we really need to head back to the cars,” one said, grasping his schedule tightly in her hand.
Couldn’t hide the enthusiasm
Visiting the many projects that CARE Denmark had started in the poor areas in the Mekong Delta the Prince did not try to hide his enthusiasm.
Despite the many signs warning about HIV and the wooden sculptures in the temples – some even missing an arm because someone needed the wood to make a cooking fire, Prince Joachim focused on the positive things.
“I always try to see the sunny side, no matter how tragic a story. I always try to see the good, instead of focusing on how bad things are. I focus on how to make things better,” he explained to reporters.
One project the delegation visited was the purchase of 1,000 small water-cleaning systems to assist a small city’s water supply. The systems are developed by the Danish company Osprey Systems and clean water using solar energy.
“That is a nifty little invention – using this they don’t have to cut down their forests to boil the water,” the much-impressed Prince said.