Royal flush: Prince Charles visits London sewage tunnel

It's a long way from Buckingham Palace.

Prince Charles got down and dirty Wednesday, visiting a sewer tunnel dug 75 meters (250 feet) under London's east end.

The heir to the British throne was marking the 150th anniversary of the city's sewers, created by engineer Joseph Bazalgette to lift the "Great Stink" caused by sewage and effluent dumped into the River Thames.

The 19th-century stench was so bad it overwhelmed lawmakers in the Houses of Parliament, who hired Bazalgette to find a solution.

His sewers, a wonder of Victorian engineering, were designed for use by 2 million people but now struggle to cope with more than 6 million users.

The prince visited the ornate Abbey Mills Pumping Station, a central part of Bazalgette's network, and donned a hard hat, protective glasses and high-visibility jacket to inspect a new tunnel designed to reduce the 39 million tonnes (43 million tons) of untreated sewage released into the river each year.

The 7-kilometer (4.4-mile) Lee Tunnel, the deepest ever built under London, is due to go into use in December as part of efforts to deal with the flow of waste from London's 8.6 million inhabitants. Their sewage not only taints the Thames but create "fatbergs," blobs of congealed fat, baby wipes and other waste that can weigh tons and clog sewers.

Charles' great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII, opened Bazalgette's sewer network when he was heir to the throne in 1865.