Prince Charles to visit South America on eco-mission


June 18, 2010 Updated Feb 13, 2009 at 7:11 PM EDT

Britain's heir to the throne, Prince Charles, is to visit the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands next month on a mission promoting environmental preservation, British officials said Friday.

The prince, accompanied by his wife Camilla, will travel to Chile, Brazil and Ecuador between March 8 and 17, the respective British embassies and the prince's office in London said in statements.

"The visit will focus on the theme of climate change, one of the UK government?s highest foreign policy priorities in 2009," a statement from the British embassy in Brazil said.

"Environmental sustainability and protection will be the central issues of the visit. This reflects The Prince of Wales?s long-standing interest and expertise in this field," it said.

Prince Charles, 60, is to begin the tour with a three-day stop in Chile, where he will focus on bilateral ties, including military ones, the diplomatic mission there said.

March 11-15, he will be in Brazil, where he will give a key speech on environmental preservation and visit the Amazon forest, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

The prince's deputy private secretary, Clive Alderton, said in a media briefing in London that, of the three countries to be visited, Brazil was "of the greatest importance in terms of political and economic clout; an absolutely vital relationship for the United Kingdom."

The prince is to round out the trip with a voyage to the Galapagos Islands, off Ecuador. That visit will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the famous Briton who formulated his evolution theory from research in the archipelago.

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