Senior Kate Ricke and junior Kaity Sharp spent the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day learning how to curtsy. Their preparations weren’t for a romantic date but for a prince: His Royal Highness, the Duke of York.
Ricke and Sharp are studying abroad in London this spring and are interning at DeMarquette Fine Chocolates, where nine Central students have interned in the past three years. The luxury chocolate marker supplies the royal family with chocolate, toffee and nougat and has won dozens of awards in its seven-year existence. But the company is also devoted to Fair Trade and humanitarian actions—buying cocoa beans from Vietnam and using the proceeds to finance a vocational rehabilitation center for handicapped children there.
The Duke of York chose to tour DeMarquette Chocolates because of its reputation for humanitarian success. The duke, Prince Andrew, is Queen Elizabeth’s third child, the younger brother of Prince Charles and the uncle to Princes William and Harry. He is fourth in line to the throne.
Sharp said Prince Andrew was straightforward and asked many questions about the business, but he also had a good sense of humor. Ricke says he was very polite and genuinely interested in DeMarquette, since he is working to recognize small businesses and entrepreneurs. His favorite treat was chocolate flavored with ginger.
“It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a member of the royal family, especially being an American and only an intern,” says Ricke. “I felt very lucky.”
But the opportunities at DeMarquette go far beyond meeting a prince. Sharp writes news and blogs for the company’s website and has learned how to process and package orders. Ricke writes promotional materials and does work in Photoshop. She has also learned how the workplace in Britain differs from the U.S. and has gained time-management skills.
“I’ve learned so much during my internship, particularly about how much work goes into running a small business,” says Sharp. “It’s been a truly rewarding experience because I feel like the work I do actually benefits the company.”
The city is a big plus, too. The girls love the rich history and diversity of London—and the independence of exploring on their own. “I feel like the world is so much bigger now,” Sharp says.
Even if they weren’t bringing home all these new lessons and a changed worldview, the Central students would have a lifelong story to share about their semester in London—the Valentine’s Day they met a prince.
“Never in my life did I think I’d have to learn how to curtsy!” says Sharp. “But it was such a great experience to have.”