Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Sandringham flower show

Photo gallery of show gardens + results of this year's competition.

The Royal Estate at Sandringham was packed today for the annual flower show attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall

Members of the public began arriving at 7.30am, the earliest organising committee chairman David Reeve could remember.

By the time Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived on the ground at 11am the parked cars stretched as far as the eye could see.

'I am absolutely delighted with the way it has gone. Perhaps the cooler temperature encouraged more people, as they were here early,' said Mr Reeve, who has been chairman for 14 years.

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'The Royal couple enjoy the show and there are so many faces they know. It is a very relaxed atmosphere considering the occasion,' he said.

It was the first time a rousing and impromptu chorus of Jerusalem burst from the Women's Institute, conducted by the Prince of Wales which, said Mr Reeve, was an indication of how relaxed he had been during the traditional walkabout.

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Crowds five or six deep lined the route as the Royal couple made their way around the venue. They were joined by guests including actress Dame Maggie Smith who was paying her second visit to the show.

'There are so many people here which surely must make it the same size as the Chelsea Flower Show.

'I think this show is very quintessential England and I am having a lovely time. It is a wonderful day and it has been great to meet so many lovely people – it's been great fun.

'The only problem is that I want to see everything here but I don't know it I'll have enough time,' she said

Raffle prizes donated by The Queen and Prince Charles ensured a brisk trade in ticket sales for the Sandringham Women's Institute.

Vice president and chairman Yvonne Browne said the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall bought cakes from the marquee during their visit, and also bought raffle tickets.

The Queen, who is the branch president, donated a Balmoral tea set while Prince Charles gave a traditional arts-style hand-painted plate.

'It went really well. We seem to do better when the weather is like it has been because a lot of people can't stand the heat - so this has been ideal,' said Mrs Browne.

Keen horticulturalists were able to learn from top gardeners Chris Beardshaw and Alan Mason who gave a talk in the Horticultural Talks marquee.

The show donates profits to charity, and since 1977 has given more than �470,000 to a range of good causes both in Norfolk and further afield.

Plans are already under way for next year and, according to Mr Reeve, the committee adopts an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' attitude and the show will continue in a similar format.

The winners of this year's large garden gold medal was Tamara Bridge's Through The Gate - a garden designed to capture the mystery of a private garden glimpsed through a gateway. She is currently completing a work placement on the Sandringham Estate under the Historical and Botanical Gardens Bursary Scheme. The garden also took the People's Choice award for large gardens,

The large garden gold was presented to Paul Welford for The Living Room which was built from natural timbers.

A Silver Gilt (team effort) went to Fork Handles by Shane and Debbie Costick and mother and daughter Nina and Emily Smith.

The winner of the small garden's gold and best in show went to Cathy Mellor's Pass it On, a peat-free exhibit which also took the People's Choice in the small category.

Silver gilt went to Lesley Anne Clarke's Opposites Attract. A silver gilt was also awarded to Ripple, by Guy Ormes. A silver was awarded to Shadow's Gardens for Elements.

See EDP24 later today for Royal pictures and tomorrow's EDP for the whole story

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