February 2020 - blissfully unaware of how the world was about to change, we were honoured to host TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall for a very special visit to our workshop in Syston, Leicestershire. We invited TRH to watch as music cases, destined for The Royal Opera House (of which Prince Charles is Patron), were made - from start to finish. The music cases sat alongside bags specially made for The Prince’s Foundation.
The joy and excitement surrounding a royal visit is hard to describe but it is a day that sits vividly and proudly in our collective memory. HRH Prince of Wales graciously unveiled a commemorative plaque (photo above) and our visitors were the first to sign a beautiful guest book.
On a tour of the workshop, our Founder and CEO, Julie Deane CBE, introduced our talented makers who are at the core of the design and manufacturing process. With a global community and a capacity for over 8,000 bags per month, we are ecstatic to be a British brand that consistently creates quality products with fascinating histories, that will become cherished, sentimental pieces for people across the world. Isn’t that just fantastic? Buy less, buy wonderful things that will last.
During the tour, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall seemed delighted to witness each stage of the making process - closely following the journey of a bag from a single leather hide to a beautiful finished product. His Royal Highness took part in one of the most exciting parts of creating our bags: he used a vintage blocking and embossing press to add a personal touch of lettering to a satchel . The embossing process is truly what turns our bags into your bags.
We are honoured to work with His Royal Highness’s organisation, The Prince’s Foundation, having created a special selection of iconic bags in collaboration with them. The Cambridge Satchel Company was established with the aim of providing Julie’s children with a good education. No wonder, then, that we chose to support this initiative, which runs educational programmes for people of all backgrounds and champions a sustainable approach to how we live our lives. Their Royal Highnesses were able to observe the manufacturing process of this collection, of which 20 percent of every sale is donated to help support the Foundation’s brilliant work.
Their Royal Highnesses came away with knowledge of the manufacturing process, and we think that the workshop tour was very much their cup of tea. In fact, at the end of the tour, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Julie and our wonderful makers enjoyed a cup together. And the cherry on top (pun very much intended) was a life-size 15” Batchel cake - in Cambridge Blue, of course!
Commenting on the visit, Julie said: “I was so pleased to be able to show The Prince and The Duchess the excellent work of our highly skilled makers. This very special visit shines a spotlight on British style and craftsmanship that is displayed through our extensive collection. We’re proud to have supported British craftsmanship for over a decade now - something we know His Royal Highness really supports too - and we don’t plan to stop anytime soon!’’
Our honorary staff member Edgar the Pug met with TRHs while wearing his HRH Prince of Wales tartan check coat. Very dapper, don’t you agree?
HRH The Prince of Wales was presented with a bespoke canvas and leather Gardening Bag and leather Highland Cow Key Charm. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was presented with a small Traveller Bag crafted in Harris Tweed and Brandy colour leather, The Doctors Bag in French Grey and a Bee Key Charm. They will be able to use them for a long time - bags to hold their stories and experiences forever!
The visit took place six years after HRH The Prince of Wales awarded Julie an OBE for Services to Entrepreneurship, having started The Cambridge Satchel Co. from her kitchen table in 2008 with just £600, a passion for education and a love of British craftsmanship. Since the visit, Julie has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and awarded a CBE for her Services to British Manufacturing.
We hope you will join us in supporting The Prince’s Foundation. Whether through striving for a sustainable approach to how we live our lives and build our homes, teaching traditional arts and skills and restoring historic sites, or by looking after places to visit for everyone to enjoy, The Prince’s Foundation is truly leading the way forward. They offer a wide range of innovative and inspiring education programmes, from traditional arts and heritage craft skills, to architecture and design, science, engineering, horticulture, well-being and hospitality. With such a wide range of initiatives to support, it’s difficult not to admire them!
To find out more about The Prince’s Foundation and their President, HRH The Prince of Wales, please go to www.princes-foundation.org. We hope to welcome our royal guests again soon.