Royal visitors add glamour to Harrogate at Great Yorkshire Show

Harrogate certainly enjoyed its fair share of the Royal Family in recent days.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were in the town for the excitement of the Tour de France, and just days later the Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal took a trip to the favoured spot for the 2014 Great Yorkshire Show.

Princess Anne

Princess Anne

The Countess of Wessex showed off her country credentials on the first day of Britain’s biggest agricultural show, which has been held in Harrogate since 1951.

As the royal entourage arrived on Tuesday morning, crowds gathered around Sophie Wessex - the Queen’s daughter-in-law, wife of Prince Edward.

The first person to greet the Countess was four-year-old Joseph Duncan. When asked what he planned to do with his day, he replied: “I’m here to see lots of animals, and the hot tubs.”

Joseph, who was at the Great Yorkshire Show with his grandma Melissa Ramsay, both from Harrogate, then described the Countess as the ‘best lady ever’.

The Countess’ day began with the official unveiling of the new bee and honey pavilion before moving onto the discovery centre where the 49-year-old helped colour in a wildlife-themed wall mural.

She also sampled local produce, endorsing a message to encourage people to think aboutwhere meat comes from.

During a visit to the show’s country pursuits section, the Countess met chocolate and white springer spaniel.

Owner Les Dixon told the royal visitor that the pair shared more than a fondness for each other, as the dog was also called Sophie.

The Princess Royal arrived at the Great Yorkshire Showground the following morning at around 11am, meeting honorary show director Bill Cowling, who received a special honour from Lord-Lieutenant Lord Crathorne and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

Mr Cowling’s six-year-old granddaughter Francesca Kottler presented a white rose to the Princess Royal as she was welcomed to the show, which she put in her jacket pocket.

Princess Anne then went to watch the show’s first ever female sheep shearing competition.

Competitor Anna Hall, aged 18, from Malton, said: “She was lovely, she asked us where we were from and seemed supportive that it’s time us girls got time to shine.”

The Princess Royal then watched sheep and pigs being judged, including the BPA Pig of the Year competition, where she took a keen interest in Lorraine Whitley’s Gloucestershire Old Spots Pig, bred on Birchfield Farm in Harrogate’s Summer Bridge.

Ms Whitley said: “Princess Anne keeps Gloucestershires on her estate, so she was asking us all about how many sows we have. She was really lovely.”

In a busy day for the Princess Royal, she then went to the cattle section and presented the Brothers Colling Memorial Challenge Cup to the Beef Shorthorn Champion, where a family connection emerged.

The prize, scooped by the Riby family of Fraisthorpe, near Bridlington, contains the name of Princess Anne’s ‘Uncle Bertie’, later King Edward VIII.

After collecting his prize, Geoff Riby said: “I reminded the princess her uncle had won it, I think she was pleasantly surprised. She has a genuine interest in farming in Yorkshire and it’s an honour to get royal support.”

Before leaving the show, the princess watched the ridden cobs class in the equine section and presented the Queen’s Award for Equestrianism to Mrs Pat Campbell of Kent.

Spending some time in the BBC World War One at Home exbition, she met Yorkshire Agricultural Society staff and was presented with a gift of local produce from Harrogate store Fodder.

The first royal visitor to the show was the Third Earl Spencer, a cousin of Queen Victoria and an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1838, and in 1848 Prince Albert visited.

Princess Anne first attended in 1992 and again in 2010. The Prince of Wales visited in 1999 and 2011, and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited in 1977 and 2008.

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