Prince Charles go to shines highlight on Cuba’s traditional British vehicles

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HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s rolling museum of classic U.S. vehicles could also be world-renowned, but it surely was the island’s assortment of British automobiles, from Jaguars to MGs, that had been on show on Tuesday for Prince Charles and his spouse Camilla throughout their historic journey to Havana.

Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend a British Traditional Automotive occasion in Havana, Cuba March 26, 2019. Arthur Edwards/Pool through REUTERS

On his second full day in Cuba, the inheritor to the UK throne drove a black 1953 MG TD to a rally of British vehicles at a park generally known as the island’s most British nook, with its statue of John Lennon and Yellow Submarine bar.

Whereas native musicians performed covers of songs by British bands just like the Beatles and Queen, the Prince of Wales spoke with homeowners of the vehicles, which like their U.S. counterparts, predate Communist-run Cuba’s 1959 revolution.

The royals’ three-day go to comes as Britain seeks to strengthen relations with Cuba as a part of the island’s broader normalization of relations with the West, though the Trump administration has rowed again on the U.S.-Cuban detente.

On Monday night, they met on the presidential Palace of the Revolution with the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who stated their go to was an honor for Cuba that underscored the great state of bilateral relations.

“This go to is an actual increase to the membership, which has solely met up a number of instances up to now,” stated Lupe Fuentes, 66, who co-founded the group final yr after realizing there was a wealth of British vehicles on the Caribbean’s largest island.

Most of the round 50 members are Cubans who inherited the vehicles from their mother and father and grandparents and for whom they’re now prized household possessions in a rustic the place vehicles are costly and exhausting to return by.

“He requested us how previous the automobile was and the way we managed to protect them,” stated Fuentes, including that the membership served to pool information and assets for restoring the vehicles.

“British vehicles are more durable to keep up than the U.S. ones as a result of there’s a fixed influx of U.S. components however lots of the British ones are now not even made,” stated Fuentes’ accomplice Ricardo Medell, 63. “We find yourself inventing quite a bit.”

He stated Cubans typically changed the unique components with different or home made components. His automobile, a purple and white Austin Healy from 1959, was now most likely 90 p.c “fabricated,” he stated.

The membership posted advert on Cuban state-run TV and radio as a way to discover different homeowners of British vehicles, and stopped some they noticed on the road to ask them to hitch.

That’s how they satisfied Fernando Gonzalez, 30, who runs a silver Jaguar from 1958 as a taxi, to hitch.

“The prince requested me how tough it was to keep up and I stated essentially the most tough factor was the steering system due to all of the potholes,” stated Gonzalez.

“I anticipated him to be extra reserved however he was very chatty.”

Charles and Camilla, who tacked the Cuba cease onto a two-week Caribbean tour of former and present British territories, additionally stopped to speak with members of a membership of British bike homeowners and UK expats dwelling in Havana, who had been waving flags.

In addition they talked to enthusiastic native residents who eschewed royal protocol to show Cuban heat, with one lady hugging Charles enthusiastically.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Modifying by Dan Grebler