REVEALED: Royal VIP confirmed for this summer's Royal Norfolk Show
PUBLISHED: 07:20 19 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:41 19 April 2019
Archant Norfolk 2018
The Royal Norfolk Show will have a royal president once again this summer - following in the princely footsteps of her husband.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, has been confirmed as the figurehead of this June's annual county showcase, taking on the role fulfilled by her husband Prince Edward in 2014, who was the show's last royal president.
She will attend the event and is expected to carry out a packed programme of visits and presentations across the showground.
Greg Smith, chief executive of show organisers the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), said: “We are very honoured to have The Countess of Wessex as our president for 2019, and we very much look forward to welcoming Her Royal Highness to the Royal Norfolk Show.
“Her Royal Highness already has a strong association with agricultural shows and is currently patron of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations, so I know she is very much looking forward to finding out more and supporting the work we undertake in the county.”
Over the last 100 years, 14 members of the royal family have been the RNAA's president and the Queen is the charity's royal patron.
The president's appointment was made at the RNAA's annual general meeting, which heard that near-perfect conditions led to an attendance of almost 85,000 last summer. But despite this, the event failed to make money last year.
Although the 2018 show's income of £1.43m was up £125,000 compared to 2017 – and the showground's other commercial activities during the year also performed strongly – cost pressures relating to infrastructure and utilities, along with losses from outside investments, amounted to an overall deficit of £133,595 for the RNAA last year.
In his annual report, Sir Nicholas Bacon, who has stepped down after 11 years as the association's chairman, says: “Financially, the picture remains difficult. We continue to tightly budget the RNAA and apply strict cost-saving measures. But one can only keep cutting costs for a certain amount of time. At some stage we need to significantly increase our income.”
READ MORE: Royal Norfolk Show chairman Sir Nicholas Bacon looks back on 40 years of tradition and evolution
During a video message to the meeting, Sir Nicholas said handing over a deficit was something he “regrets most heartily”. But his successor Rob Alston said he was being “ a bit harsh” on himself, as the organisation's balance sheet shows more than £4m in the bank, and its commercial operations beyond the show continued to grow.
“I think Nico's legacy is the commercial viability we have here at the showground. There are challenges around the corner, but we are on a good financial footing.”