5 JULY 2007

Impeccably dressed in a double-breasted grey suit and with a flower in his buttonhole, Prince Charles didn't exactly look the part for a visit to flood-devastated areas. But that didn't stop the concerned royal from jumping right in when he toured a South Yorkshire village left under five feet of water after a week of torrential downpours.

Although he lacked the waders and wellies worn by those showing him around the main street of Toll Bar, near Doncaster, the Prince of Wales was determined to view the damage at close hand.

While the rest of his entourage stayed put on dry ground, Charles climbed onto a grey inflatable dinghy to be rowed across the floodwater by firefighters. "It was his idea," recounted one fireman. "They had to keep (the boat) steady because they can go over. There are all sorts of obstructions under the water."

And even when emergency workers decided it was too tricky to go on Charles remained undeterred, leaping out of the vessel to paddle the last few yards through the murky water.

Later, the Prince - who told evacuated residents sheltering at a leisure centre: "I was determined to get into the boat" - praised their efforts after hearing how the community had reacted to the crisis.

Photo: ©
Determined to inspect rain damage for himself, the Prince got an unscheduled trip in a dinghy on a tour of Toll Bar, near DoncasterPhoto: © PA
Photo: ©
Despite not really being attired for the conditions, Charles later paddled into the water, which had reached five foot in places, in order to view the local primary schoolPhoto: © PA