Prince Charles greets investiture recipients with namaste amid coronavirus fears

Prince Charles greeted recipients at the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace with a namaste as the spread of coronavirus continues to affect royal protocol.

At the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday, the Prince of Wales similarly greeted people with the non-contact gesture and he did the same at the Prince's Trust Awards on Wednesday.

Baroness Floella Benjamin received such a greeting from Charles as she collected her damehood at Buckingham Palace.

Baroness Benjamin, after a brief exchange with Prince Charles, bowed simultaneously with the royal with her hands together.

Known to millions as the host of Play School and Play Away, the beloved children's TV presenter was recognised for her services to charity in the New Year Honours List.

The Lib Dem life peer has dedicated over 40 years to campaigning for young people and supports charities including Barnardo's, Sickle Cell Society and Beating Bowel Cancer.

The Prince of Wales uses a Namaste gesture to greet Ant and Dec. Credit: PA

After receiving her damehood, the 70-year-old said: "You get such a buzz from giving back and making a difference, changing the world, and to get an honour like this after these years it's like wonderful recognition.

"Today, it's giving me a wonderful feeling in my heart. I haven't done charity work for any ulterior motive but only to change people's lives.

"To get it, it is like wow, how exciting. But I'm still thinking: what more can I do?

"To me, it doesn't end here."

Floella Benjamin with her honour. Credit: PA

A "huge admirer" of Charles, Baroness Benjamin said she was "thrilled" to receive her damehood from him on Thursday.

"I adore the Prince of Wales because he is a man of vision and over the years, I've always written to him when it comes to the environment," she said.

"He is just so with it.

"He has had to take a lot of criticism over the years but has been proved right, and all the people that criticised him have come around to his way of thinking.

"I was thrilled to have got it from him this morning because I'm a huge admirer of him, and all the things he is promoting."

Baroness Benjamin, who has recently been in Barbados supporting charity Transplant Links, added: "I told him about going to Barbados and he said, 'I love the Carribean, especially Barbados'."

Born on the Caribbean island of Trinidad before moving to the UK, Baroness Benjamin has appeared in several stage musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Mikado.

A 12-year stint on Play School, a BBC programme for youngsters, made her one of the most recognisable children's TV presenters in the country.

In 2010, she was introduced to the House of Lords and given the full title of Baroness Benjamin, of Beckenham in the County of Kent.

  • Prince Charles appeared to pull out of a handshake as he arrived at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey

Baroness Benjamin also addressed criticism of the word "empire" in the honours system, saying it was "important" to understand the history of the term - after Labour leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy called for it to be removed.

Baroness Benjamin said: "George V said, why don't we have an honour where it could be women honoured, become more inclusive, and more people across the British Empire would also be included, other countries.

"It's not just what you think of the British going out and conquering people, George V wanted to make it inclusive. And that's what it is."

She said that she was having conversations about how to "modernise the word", adding: "But I think if people realise why it's called empire, they would realise because it is to be inclusive, not to say, 'we are a great thing'.

"I think that's important.

"I feel proud to receive this, because it's telling you that the work you have done for your country and your society has been acknowledged and recognised.

"And I feel completely blessed and recognised today."