The first day of this year’s Balmoral Show got the Royal seal of approval as Princess Anne toured the stalls and sampled some of the delights of the annual event bringing the countryside to the city.
The Princess Royal arrived escorted by police motorbikes at around 9.30am as crowds queued to enter the show, which is spending its second year at the Maze Long Kesh site near Lisburn.
After being greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Co Down, David Lindsay and the Mayor of Lisburn City Council, Margaret Tolerton, the Queen’s only daughter chatted with a range of exhibitors discussing everything from cutting down on red tape for farmers, to her taste in coffee.
Dr Ronan Coll, an IT Technologist with the Department of Agriculture, said the Princess Royal was very interested in the measures being taken in Northern Ireland to help farmers get online.
“She was asking about some of the support and development we offer farmers relating to online services,” he said. “I explained that it’s important to ensure there’s a good training system and support service in place in order to help and convince farmers to make the change from paper registrations to doing transactions with DARD electronically and online.”
Interested to learn more about some of our local businesses, Princess Anne spoke with Robert Bell, the director of SD Bell & Co Ltd.
Mr Bell, who is third generation head of his family-run tea and coffee company, recommended their signature after-dinner 1887 blend, having been informed by the Princess’ lady-in-waiting that she is a fan of strong coffee.
“I gave her a bag in bean-form, she’s got a bean-to-cup machine at home so she is, I hope, looking forward to using that,” said Mr Bell.
Princess Anne also viewed animals as they were being prepared for judging, watched the Young Farmers get to grips with sheep-shearing, and met some of the members of the Women’s Institute during her visit.