Prince’s visit makes it a real royal show this year

PRINCE Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall delighted crowds when they visited the Great Yorkshire Show on Wednesday with their informal style as they toured the show and talked to visitors and exhibitors alike.

A crowd of nearly 1,000 people gathered around the Blue Gate where they arrived by car shortly after noon. Their helicopter had earlier landed on Oatlands Stray and they stopped off at the Cedar Court hotel first to freshen up.

The royal couple were also welcomed by senior members of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, headed by President Sir Ken Morrison, and civic dignitaries including the Mayor and Mayoress of Harrogate, Coun Les Ellington and his wife Chris, the Chairman of North Yorkshire County Council, Coun John Fort and his wife Jennifer, the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police Grahame Maxwell and Harrogate MP Andrew Jones,.

The royal couple appeared relaxed and were applauded and given gifts of flowers and chocolates by members of the public as they spent around three hours walking around the show. They were escorted by Show Director Bill Cowling and his wife Caroline.

To greet more of the crowd, they split up and took separate routes through the showground.

The duchess, wearing a pale green skirt and jacket, looked elegant on the tour as she greeted members of the public who had waited more than an hour to see the couple on their first visit to the show since 2006.

She was given a posy of white flowers, representing the Yorkshire white rose by Show Director Bill Cowling’s granddaughter, five-year- old Celia Knottler. The duchess complimented Celia on her “near perfect” curtsy.

At the forestry section Prince Charles chatted to Joey Tabon, who is chief executive of Start, an initiative launched by the Prince of Wales to help people achieve a more sustainable living.

The Prince also took an interest in pies produced by Whixley-based company Voakes Pies, a family who have owned and farmed in North Yorkshire for more than 40 years.

Louise Voakes, who lives at Whixley Grange Farm and makes the pies along with husband Andrew, said she was extremely happy to meet the prince.

“The prince tasted the game meat and he said it was delicious. He was extremely friendly, a lovely man.”

The prince also visited a wool-themed fashion display where he met Bernadette Gledhill, the managing director of Morton Gledhill fashion house, based in Huddersfield.

She said: “It was an honour to meet the prince. I know he is patron for the campaign for wool and he is very informed about it. For me personally I was thrilled to meet him, he was very down-to-earth too.”

In a speech made at the Country Living marquee, Prince Charles also announced his intention to fund nearly £200,000 of new grants from the Prince’s Countryside Fund to help boost British farmers and rural communities.

“This will provide us all with an opportunity to celebrate the people who make our countryside the very precious national asset that it undoubtedly is.

“I know today we will see livestock of the very highest order, being produced by some of the best farmers in the world.

“This is what this country is famous for, unfortunately it doesn’t happen by magic.

“The farming community faces very challenging times ahead.”

Prince Charles, who is patron of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, went on to say he was confident the Countryside Fund could help the next generation.

The grants would help support a wide range of projects, from empowering young people in isolated areas to providing business support to women living in rural areas, he said.

Their three-hour tour of stalls and agricultural displays ran over time by more than an hour because of the number of show visitors who wanted to greet and shake hands with them.

After a short break for lunch the couple appeared on the balcony of the President’s Pavilion and gave a wave to the crowd. They also watched the cattle parade in the main ring together in the President’s Box . Then they presented the Burke Trophy for beef, the most prestigious cattle award, and talked to livestock exhibitors.

The royal couple left the show ground at just after 4pm by car, where they were then taken back to a waiting helicopter on Oatlands Stray.