Remembering King Charles' last visit to South Tyneside, when the then Prince of Wales joked with Barbour workers

As the new monarch is proclaimed King across the United Kingdom, those in South Tyneside who have met His Majesty will be reflecting on their moment in the royal spotlight.

King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, last visited the borough less than a year ago, when he paid a visit to Barbour’s production factory at the Bede Industrial Estate in November 2021.

His Majesty met workers and unveiled a new plaque celebrating the opening of the Barbour Wax for Life Workshop.

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The new monarch is famed for his passionate environmental campaigning, and was full of praise for Barbour’s century of sustainable practice through the company’s policy of re-waxing jackets to extend their lifespan and reduce the need for the production and purchase of new garments.

His visit came days after he addressed world leaders at the COP26 conference, calling for consensus of action in more sustainable practices to protect the planet.

A jacket of choice of the Royal Family, Barbour has received three Royal Warrants endorsing the product, including from the King himself, when Prince of Wales, in 1987.

After unveiling a plaque, Prince Charles quipped: “Thank you so much for today. I’ll make sure to empty my pockets before I send my jacket for re-waxing.”

During his visit the Prince got the chance to try re-waxing a jacket himself under the expert tutelage of re-proofer, Neil Travis.

King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, turns his hand to re-waxing a Barbour jacket.

He joked: “I wonder which poor customer this jacket belongs to.”

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The Prince also took time to visit the factory’s museum and chat with machinists on the factory floor who he praised for their “fantastic work”.

The Prince was escorted by the company’s Director of Supply Chain, Ian Sime.

Ian said on the day: “We were very pleased to welcome the Prince here today. We’ve been re-waxing jackets here for 100 years, extending the life-cycle of our product and to have Prince Charles here today to have a look at the work we’ve been doing was really quite thrilling.”

King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, chats with Barbour machinist Julie-Anne Sheville.
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Dame Margaret Barbour added: “It was an honour to welcome his Royal Highness back to Babour 27 years after his first visit. Our workshop brings together all our sustainable initiatives into one place.

"If a Barbour jacket is re-waxed at least once a year, with regular use it can last a long time and be handed down to future generations, making it a very sustainable choice.”

The company also promotes its Re-loved programme which sees jackets no longer wanted by their owner, up-cycled to be purchased at a reduced rate from new customers.

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King Charles III, then Prince of Wales, taking a ride on the Metro.

Whilst in the region, Prince Charles also paid a special visit to the Tyne & Wear Metro to mark the 40th anniversary of its Royal opening in 1981.

The Prince travelled two stops from from Central Station to Haymarket, where he unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

He was joined by Chief Operating Officer of Nexus, Martin Kearney, who said: “It was a huge honour to welcome His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. He was keen to hear about Metro’s environmental credentials in taking 11 million car journeys off the road and being entirely powered from non-carbon sources.

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“The Royal visit was a great confidence boost for the whole public transport industry."

King Charles III, then The Prince of Wales, greets workers at the Barbour factory in South Shields.
King Charles III, then The Prince of Wales, visits Barbour's factory to open their new Wax for Life Workshop alongside Dame Margaret Barbour.
King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, unveils a plaque commemorating the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Tyne & Wear Metro.