London: Britain`s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla began a four-day trip to Mexico on Sunday, visiting a cemetery of English migrants on the Latin American nation`s Day of the Dead.
After a five-day tour of Colombia, the royal couple landed in Mexico City and immediately headed to the mountain town of Real del Monte in the central state of Hidalgo.
Hundreds of people lined the cobblestone streets, waving the Union Jack as the couple toured the town considered the birthplace of British-Mexican relations.
In 1825, miners from Cornwall sailed to Mexico to help revive the country`s silver industry, settling in Real del Monte and bringing football and their southwest English region`s pasty dish with them.
Charles and Camilla, who are also the duke and duchess of Cornwall, visited the town`s English cemetery, home to nearly 300 tombs of Cornish miners and their descendants, some dating back to 1834.
They lay a small wreath at a monument for John Vial, the only Mexican-Briton known to have fought in World War I. He died at the Battle of the Somme at age 22.
Their visit coincided with Mexico`s Day of the Dead, a two-day celebration in which people visit cemeteries to honor their fallen relatives, bringing flowers and their favorite foods in a centuries-old tradition mixing pre-Hispanic and Catholic beliefs.
The prince and duchess then visited the main square of this town of 14,000 people, where they were shown an altar to the dead bedecked with marigolds and food offerings.
Accompanied by Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade and Hidalgo Governor Jose Francisco Olvera, they were later driven to Real del Monte`s Pasty Museum.Mexicans have made pasties their own, calling them "pastes" and making them with local ingredients like beans or local "mole" sauce instead of potatoes or curry.
Townspeople said they were proud to be visited by the heir to the British throne and voiced hope it would boost the local economy, which relies on tourism.
"It is a prestigious visit for our town," said Guillermo Rodriguez, 31, whose family runs Real del Monte`s oldest pasty restaurant, Pastes El Billar.
"It`s an English town. The climate is similar with the fog and light rain. And there`s football of course. The English brought it," said Rodriguez.
His great-grandmother worked for English immigrants and learned to make pasties from them. The restaurant makes cornish potato pasties spiced up with Mexican chiles.
Griselda Garcia Rodriguez, a 55-year-old retired doctor, waited for the couple`s arrival at the town center.
"My great-grandfather was English," she said. "At home, we drank tea in the morning, afternoon and evening."
After Hidalgo, Prince Charles and the duchess will visit Mexico City on Monday to meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto.
They will then tour the Edzna ruins, a Mayan archeological site in the eastern state of Campeche, before heading to the industrial hub of Monterrey in the north.
The Latin American tour was made at the request of the British government, following invitations from the presidents of Mexico and Colombia, to boost relations with both nations.
It is the prince`s fifth visit to Mexico since 1966.