Borders industries put on right royal show to welcome Prince Charles

Borderers turned out in force to greet the Prince of Wales as he paid visits to shops, other businesses and streets around the region last Friday.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 9:15 am
The Duke of Rothesay with his homemade Margherita pizza.

The Duke of Rothesay, as he is known in Scotland, was in the region for visits to Hawick, St Boswells and Old Melrose.

And he was greeted in style, with Union Jack flags decorating the pavements and Hawick Scout Pipe Band providing a musical fanfare for his arrival to Hawick High Street.

The duke’s first engagement saw him meet staff at Scott and Charters’ knitwear factory as he officially opened its new home in Fairhurst Drive, the first to be built in the town for 40 years.

Duke Of Rothesay as he leaves Hawick.

The 70-year-old heir to the throne then met representatives of the Famously Hawick initiative, a marketing and tourism drive led by the Borders Distillery, Johnstons of Elgin, William Lockie, Lovat Mill and Hawico, in Duke Street.

Johnstons of Elgin managing director Nick Bannerman said: “His royal highness was delighted to see five local luxury manufacturers taking the initiative to set up Famously Hawick in order to attract high-end tourism to Hawick.

“He was most impressed when I told him this was the only town in the world to have cashmere, knitwear, tweed weaving and a whisky distillery.

“Now we hope to see the tourist numbers grow rapidly, bringing a further boost to our local economy.”

Suitably versed about the town’s industries, the duke headed onwards to the FirstLight Trust charity shop in High Street, where he met forces veterans including Brian McLeod, Jim Stirling and Keith Irvine.

Hawick’s honorary provost Watson McAteer was called upon to introduce the royal guest to town worthies, and he said it was a “tremendous honour and privilege” to escort the duke around High Street.

“The townsfolk gave Prince Charles a rousing reception and he was generous in spending time with the large and appreciative crowd of onlookers,” he said.

“His visits to local businesses were very well received, and his humorous and engaging style was visible to all.

“This was a very successful visit that brought a real feel-good factor to the town and was rounded off when his royal highness said that he would welcome a return in the future.”

There was just time for a quick call at Lindsay Grieve’s butcher’s to pick up some haggis, and from there it was onwards to St Boswells and a visit to Mainstreet Trading Company.

He spent time chatting with residents, and their dogs, before taking delivery of a fresh margherita pizza from Erminio Di Meo.

The Italian chef had popped out from nearby restaurant Hunter’s Stable and was delighted when the duke accepted his gift. “My heart is full,” he beamed.

Inside the deli, bookshop and cafe, the duke was shown around by owners Bill and Rosamund de la Hey.

He described the Main Street establishment as “bigger than it appeared”, took time to chat rugby with waiter Mully Bannerman and met diners.

Kelso author Margaret Skea presented him with a signed copy of her book Turn the Tide, and local couple Caroline and Roy Lawrie gifted a copy of Old St Boswells on behalf of the community council.

The duke quizzed the couple about what the “hot topics” were in the village, agreeing that footpaths were an issue almost everywhere.

He was then treated to a singalong from youngsters from the village nursery in the library van before reading a book picked by young dinosaur fan Scott Snelger.

In the deli, he sampled some of the region’s finest produce, including one cider he said he suspected was “lovely but fatal”.

He told Phillippa Henley, who showed him around the homeware shop, that the Duchess of Rothesay would have loved to have done a spot of shopping there had she joined him on his travels north of the border.

Phillippa said: “It was terrifying, but he was lovely.

“He was very knowledgeable and there was a lot of common ground. It means he really got the whole business and why it is special.”

Rosamund told the Southern afterwards: “It was fantastic to show him all the different elements of the business. It was a real honour and a treat.

“He was so engaged with everything we do here. He met nearly the entire staff, most of whom have been involved since the beginning of the business, so that was lovely.

“The kids were wonderful too. They sang beautifully and really brought the visit to life.

“Bill picked our longest-standing deli suppliers to exhibit their goods and they all got to meet the duke.

“It’s been a very special day, and I’m quite overwhelmed.”

Village community council chairman John Pollock added: “It’s an honour to have him in the village and it was a privilege to meet him.”

From St Boswells, the duke headed north to Old Melrose where he officially opened environmental charity the Tweed Forum’s new offices and met farmers and fishermen.

He spoke to forum staff and trustees as well as the charity’s 2017 river champion, Galashiels farmer Jim Sinclair, and this year’s award-winner, plastics campaigner and teacher Tom Rawson, as well as members of Melrose Scouts involved in litter-picks along the river.

Tweed Forum director Luke Comins gave an overview of its work protecting and conserving the the river and its surroundings, Derek Robeson used geographic models to explain the organisation’s catchment-management work, and professor Chris Spray spoke about land use.

Mr Comins said; “We’re extremely grateful to his royal highness for taking the time to come and hear about our work and to officially open our new offices.

“He is clearly supportive of everything we do and shares our passion for rivers and their importance within the landscape to local people and the economy.”