But it was one of the most senior members of the Royal family who won the hearts of those at the Great Yorkshire Show yesterday with his forensic understanding of rural issues.
Under azure skies and glorious sunshine, the Prince of Wales cut an unmistakable figure, hoisting a shepherd’s crook carved with a white rose at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate, a gift from a previous visit some 15 years ago.
He was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, who also embarked on a charm offensive throughout a series of engagements at England’s largest showpiece of rural life.
As he toured cattle sheds and sheep judging, Prince Charles proved his farming merit, quizzing one champion on the ‘halters and marbling’ of their prized bull.
“He knows exactly what farmers need and want,” said Tom Harrison of Northumberland, whose 1,550kg Hereford bull Moralee One Rebel Kicks had been crowned Supreme Champion.
“I could have talked to the man for an hour. I would have liked to buy him a pint.”
As the Prince passed through the show rings, one competitor attempted to sell him a shorthorn bull, while another offered him two Shetland sheep. A third presented him with a punnet of Thirsk strawberries.
Charles took it all in stride, pausing as he toured the showground to chat with families, farmers, and stewards at work.
One young visitor who caught the Prince’s attention was baby Phoebe Richardson of Ripon, who had reached out a plump little fist as Charles passed on the President’s Lawn, before he stopped to ask her name.
“It was amazing,” said mother Hannah Richardson, revealing that this had been the first big day out for Phoebe, who is now aged just eight months old. “I can’t believe she got to meet the Prince –this is the first big event she has been to because of lockdown.”
Three-year-old Arabella Mayers, from the Woodlands area of Harrogate, had proudly shown the future king her melting ice lolly when he stopped to ask how she was enjoying her visit.
“Now that’s a proper ice cream,” he had replied with a laugh, pointing instead at her father Dave Mayer’s dairy cone.
And across the grounds, as the Royal couple passed, their were echoes of surprise on delighted faces as it began to dawn on show visitors who was in their midst.
Charles is patron of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, which organises the agricultural event, hailed as the largest showcase of its kind in the country.
While the show was cancelled last year to huge disappointment, it returned on Tuesday with new safety measures and a cap on visitor numbers. It closes Friday, having run for four days in the first time in its history.
“It’s lovely that they’ve come,” said Rosita Pyne and Cherryl Evans of Wakefield, who had waited patiently to watch from afar as the Prince passed. “We needed this, after the year we’ve had. It’s brought such a lift.”
Duchess charmed by 'happy hog'
The Duchess of Cornwall revealed her own hives have brought in revenues of £65,000 over the years as she visited a ‘shop window’ of the region’s displays of bee hives and honey.
Camilla, touring garden areas and a children’s discovery zone, stopped to speak to guests, inquiring after Barbara Metcalfe’s three-year-old granddaughter, Florence, of Ripon, who remained resolutely asleep through the encounter.
Chloe Ellam, 10, of Selby, was asked about her needle felting, while the Duchess joked with children turning their hand to sausage making. As she was invited to hold a protected hedgehog, Camilla told handlers she would quite like to take it home, adding: “She’s a happy hog. She’s absolutely charming.”
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