September 18 2014 Latest news:
Paul Geater and Matt Hunter
Friday, May 30, 2014
He may have been at the centrepiece of the Suffolk social calendar, but Prince Harry could not resist using a trip to the county’s show to speak of his love for Norfolk.
At a packed Trinity Park, Ipswich, the Royal guest told of his delight at being in the region, saying: “My heart lifts every time I go to Suffolk – or Norfolk.”
The prince spent three years in Suffolk as a soldier and thanked its inhabitants for the “kindness” they had shown him while he was there.
His appearance came on the second day of the county’s agricultural show, which organisers last night hailed a huge success.
The prince, who was an Apache pilot based at Wattisham Airfield – between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds – until recently, added: “It’s no accident Britain’s greatest landscape painters took their inspiration from Suffolk’s huge skies and gentle seas.
“I know this because I have had the pleasure of flying Her Majesty’s Apaches through those skies over the past years.
“Which brings me to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the welcome and kindness I have received during my time as a Suffolk soldier.
“It’s one thing to have experienced such generosity of spirit, it’s quite another to have encountered it from people who have had me buzzing over them and their animals at all hours of the day and night.”
He paid tribute to Suffolk for being “durable, powerful and magnificent” and, in the centenary year of the start of the First World War, highlighted the men from the county who died for freedom.
Prince Harry also thanked the people of Suffolk for giving him privacy while he was stationed in the county – he was grateful for the opportunity of living a relatively “normal” life while at Wattisham.
He went on to tour the show, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors over two days, and saw prize-winning farmyard animals, including cattle, sheep and horses. He also toured displays of tractors and combine harvesters and met young farmers and many others associated with the farming industry.
As the Suffolk Show came to an end last night, the event’s honorary director, Bill Baker, said he had been left “staggered” and “thrilled to bits” by the reaction to the two-day event.
“You could sense the anticipation before Prince Harry’s arrival,” he said.
“We had to keep the programme to ourselves for security reasons, but the crowds were desperate to see him. The children he presented the award to for farming – you could see the joy, tears and pride their parents had because of their achievement. When the children started the project, they never in their wildest dreams had any idea that Prince Harry would be presenting the award.”
See tomorrow’s EDP farming section for a Suffolk Show round-up.