As the Prince of Wales arrived on Friday at the Bundaberg Rum distillery to be briefed on how to make booze, trouble was brewing back at the palace.
In an extraordinary move after claims the Duchess of Cornwall was bored during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, palace officials swung into damage control to hose down a potential controversy.
Clarence House took the unusual step of issuing a public statement to insist both Charles, 69, and Camilla, 70, had a good time during the 150-minute ceremony.
“The Prince and the Duchess thoroughly enjoyed the opening ceremony,” the statement said.
“They found it entertaining and moving particularly the indigenous musical performances and the smoking ceremony.”
Camilla had been caught on camera leafing through the program for the show. Some armchair critics including former Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham believed it was a magazine and slammed Camilla for reading it.
Mitcham claimed the Duchess’ “top lip betrayed a constant look of contempt when she was looking up from her magazine”.
— Matthew Mitcham (@matthew_mitcham) April 4, 2018
Charles was seen peering at something on a mobile phone with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The statement was released after Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin defended an “absolutely shattered” Camilla on Thursday, saying accusations she was bored were “not true”.
The Duchess, she said, “really wanted to go to sleep” because she was jet-lagged, despite having spent two days on an estate near Gundagai, NSW, before flying to Brisbane.
“She’s still coming off a long-haul flight,” Ms Martin said.
“She did full duty right through and the only time she got a break was when she sat in the car from Brisbane down to here.
“Then she got 20 minutes to change before she went to another reception. When you’re back to back like that, coming off a long-haul flight … and she literally hates flying.”
Ms Martin added that although she “didn’t see the facial expressions” of the royal pair on the night, she was sure Camilla “really enjoyed herself”.
Commonwealth Games boss Peter Beattie admitted he probably would also have flipped through the program instead of listening to his speech.
While he “obviously” didn’t see the Duchess’ perceived boredom, “she was enthusiastic in my dealings with her. And she was really positive.”
The Duchess bounced back on April 5 to walk barefoot on a Gold Coast beach, tie on an apron to make lamingtons with Prince Charles and play table tennis with Mr Turnbull’s wife Lucy Turnbull.
On the first night of competition on Thursday, the Duchess presented medals at the track cycling while the prince was in the stands at the swimming finals.
On Friday, Prince Charles toured the distillery and had a community barbecue before heading to Lady Elliot Island to discuss his passion project, the environment and coral reefs.
Camilla, meanwhile, stayed in Brisbane headed to Bundaberg for the distillery tour and a community barbecue, then Lady Elliot Island to discuss the environment and coral reefs.
He will tour Vanuatu, Cairns and Darwin solo for an extra four days while Camilla – who spent Friday in Brisbane meeting members of charity groups before being special guest at a Women of the World event – flies home to the UK.
“The Duchess has always wanted to do the Commonwealth Games,” a Clarence House spokesman said, adding she’s leaving now “because that will be the natural point really to go home”.