Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s recent flying visit to Cuba caught the attention of cigar lovers in Sautter of Mount Street this week.
Let’s face it – once you’re on the cigar bandwagon, any mention of Cuba within 300 yards is listened to and dissected with intense scrutiny.
As part of a larger tour of the Caribbean, the Royal couple stopped off for three days of sightseeing – and what Whitehall organisers of the trip call a ‘Soft Power’ demonstration (politicians and negotiators being the Hard Power option).
Now, many tours of this beautiful and evocative island at least feature a visit to a cigar factory; it’s of interest to most, even if they’re not a cigar smoker. But as the Times somewhat sniffily put it, ‘Charles hates cigars.’ And so the cigar factory was notable in its absence. The Prince and Duchess visited farmers, the Cuban Ballet Company, accompanied by Carlos Acosta, and a vintage car show, where, not to be denied its moment in the sun, the Cuban cigar finally put in an appearance.
His Royal Highness was having a high old time, enjoying the old cars on show, many of which he recognised. A fellow car enthusiast (and, one supposes, a cigar lover) then did what cigar folks do the world over, and handed the Prince a cigar. There was no obvious sign of his aforementioned antipathy to this hallowed stick. Apparently, he sniffed it appreciatively and handed it onto an aide. Pretty good show, we reckon.
It got us thinking about how cigars are portrayed in mainstream media and in society in general. On the whole, if cigars aren’t being held up as a disgusting, filthy way to poison yourself and those around you, they’re treated as a bit of a joke. Cue the silly season picture spread of someone larking around using a cigar as a prop to look cool or goof around. Once in a blue moon, ‘celebs’ are photoed enjoying a stogie, at which point they are nearly always accused of partying too hard, not looking after themselves, being too rich or simply all three.
It’s the contention of most cigar lovers that their beloved hobby doesn’t deserve the ostracism it currently endures. We realise that smoking a cigar is not in itself good for us; it must be used sensibly and in moderation – just like alcohol. But we feel the benefits we receive from smoking cigars – relaxation, de-stressing, friendship, camaraderie, education and enlightenment to name but a few – far outweigh the risk.
‘As part of a healthy lifestyle’ seems to be the quote du jour for small print on food these days. Perhaps we should equally apply it to cigars. Because cigars, enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle, are one of God’s great gifts.