Prince Charles and Camilla return to Sandringham Flower Show as favourite summer event blooms again
Sandringham flower show has bloomed again and, in spite of a two-year enforced break, it was as colourful and informal as ever.
'So happy to be back' was the message that echoed across the parkland - from the crowds who flocked through the gates, the organisers and from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall who said they were delighted to return for their traditional tour of the show.
At 11am on the dot, an open Victorian carriage pulled by two grey horses from the Royal Mews brought the Royal couple to one of their favourite summer events.
After the Duchess accepted posies from Thea Harrison (11) and Mila Perrin (8), she and Prince Charles set off on their traditional walkabout.
They shook hands, chatted and shared a joke or two with crowds who lined their path, accepted flowers and gifts and greeted regular wellwishers they had not seen since 2019.
Show chairman, David Reeve, said: “They took all the time they could making sure they didn't miss anybody. People had gone along hoping to see the Prince and Duchess but never thought they would be able to shake hands with them.
“They have a secret potion in their ability to make everyone feel important.”
Just one among the crowd was Alice Sandall, aged 11, from Leicestershire, who handed them a bunch of hydrangeas and said it was “amazing” that they shook hands and chatted to her.
First port of call for the royal visitors was the horticultural marquee where they received two new varieties of roses and ordered one, Timeless Queen, to add to their collections at Sandringham and Highgrove.
They also posed for pictures with teams from florists who operate under the umbrella of Flower from the Farm and had prepared a bouquet of seasonal garden blooms for the Duchess.
They were especially interested in the gardening clubs' entries on the theme An Elizabethan Garden and in Thistlefield Nurseries garden display themed around outdoor entertaining.
Popping into the Sandringham Women's Institute marquee they came out with cakes and buns – and the Duchess gratefully accepted a refreshing glass of cold water.
A visit to the Sandringham estate schools' marquee had everyone laughing. The pupils had created displays based on the platinum jubilee and the royal couple burst into laughter when they discovered that a model of The Queen's handbag contained a marmalade sandwich – a nod to the Monarch's jubilee anniversary chat with Paddington Bear.
At the Norfolk Girlguiding tent they unveiled a plaque marking the centenary – in 2020 – of the First Sandringham Girl Guides of which The Queen was a member and they met three local guides wearing guiding uniform of the 1960s.
Calling in at the Sandringham Royal Warrant Holders Association marquee, they were given a tray of strawberries and a goodies hamper
Their 90-minute tour finished with a guard of honour by the Air Cadets and they then presented jubilee medals to eight members of 677 Squadron of the Army Air Corps.
Entries in some of the horticultural classes were down because of the hot dry weather in the run up to the show but there was no sign that increased admission charges had kept visitors away.
“I think it has been a good day,” said Mr Reeve. “It looks like a big turnout although it is hard to guess numbers.
“I do know it has been lovely to see people again and the Royal visit makes it all the more special – it takes informality to a whole different level.”
He added that when the Royals left the showground they thanked him and said “we hope to see you again next year.”
Show results will appear in Tuesday's Lynn News.
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