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Registered: 07/26/04
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Muddled Prince Charles Drinks Potent Kava Juice
    #3909471 - 03/12/05 11:45 PM (13 years, 1 month ago)

Muddled Prince Drinks Potent Kava Juice
March 10, 2005

The Prince of Wales took part in a Fijian ritual today by drinking a cup of kava juice - and the potent liquid seemed to have had its legendary effect.

Banned in most of Europe and the United States, the infusion made from the root of a pepper plant is a mild narcotic which can make indulgers very relaxed and drowsy.

Shortly after sipping the traditional beverage, Charles slipped up in a speech, muddling the dates he last visited the Pacific Ocean islands.

He indicated to villagers gathered for his ceremonial welcome to Fiji - the final port of call on his overseas tour - that he last came to the country in 1980 for the 10th anniversary of its independence.

In fact, the Prince's last official visit was more than 30 years ago in 1974 to celebrate 100 years since the country was pronounced a British Crown colony.

The kava concoction, which looks like muddy water and is said to taste like medicine and give drinkers a furry tongue, was formerly only the drink of chiefs and priests.

Long drinking sessions of the juice can make people very drowsy. It is also said to be good for anxiety, depression and as a diuretic.

It is now consumed socially in Fiji and used as an important spiritual welcome to guests.

As he took part in his spiritual greeting in Viseisei near Nadi at the start of his two-day stay in the country, Charles was presented with a small bowl of kava and smiled after taking a long sip.

He told the village, who had gathered cross-legged on the central green for his arrival, that he first visited Fiji in 1970 to represent the Queen at marking the country's independence.

He then made a mistake by adding: "Again I was fortunate enough to return ten years later to help celebrate your tenth year of independence."

There may have been other factors that affected the Prince on the stiflingly hot and humid afternoon.

The heir to the throne is nearly at the end of a busy two-week tour covering three countries and is thousands of miles away from his bride-to-be Camilla Parker Bowles.

Also known as yaqona or "grog", the kava was prepared in a tanoa dish for the important occasion by mixing the root powder with water.

The dish of juice was connected by a piece of twisted rope to a tabua or whale's tooth - an important gift to VIPs.

Drinkers should never step over the rope, which represents a link to the spirit world.

Sat in an open-fronted thatched hut watching the proceedings, the Prince had no chance to break this rule.

He waved a fan in front of his face amid the claustrophobic heat.

The event was hosted by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, who comes from Viseisei.

* related story: Charles hopeful of end to kava ban

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