'A champion' - How Prince Philip became the 'people's prince' at the Royal Norfolk Show
- Credit: RNAA
The boss of an agricultural charity behind one of Norfolk's most prestigious events of the year has paid tribute to its former president – The Duke of Edinburgh.
The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), which created the annual two-day spectacular The Royal Norfolk Show, welcomed Prince Philip as its president.
One of the oldest county associations, the RNAA was founded in 1847 and for over 100 years has held shows in a variety of locations throughout the county. And in 1952, the charity purchased land at Costessey for a permanent showground and hosted its first show there in 1954.
More than two decades ago, Prince Philip became its president for the 1999 event.
The RNAA’s managing director, Mark Nicholas, paid tribute to the Duke.
He said: “All of the members of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association are deeply saddened to hear of the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“Prince Philip had been a champion of the agricultural sector both as president of the RNAA in 1999, and his drive and energy in founding the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth at the Royal Show, held in Norfolk, in 1957.
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“Our deepest sympathies are with Her Majesty the Queen and all members of the royal family.”
During that year’s event, he was described by on-lookers as being “on sparkling form, striding out at a pace of a much younger man, while people jogged on alongside him”.
As reported in an article, published in the Eastern Daily Press on Thursday, July 1, 1999, he "proved himself a people’s prince, mingling with showground crowds and going out of his way to meet ordinary folk”.
He chatted amiably to stallholders and exhibitors as he toured the Royal Norfolk Show, meeting show dignitaries, carrying out a tour of a crop of livestock classes, and talking with owners and judges.
He made several impromptu stops where something particular caught his eye, as well as dropping in at first aid points to check everyone was all right.
Ken Proctor, from Shipdham, was congratulated by the Duke on his cowin-calf win.
He also met with a teacher from Norwich’s Bignold Middle School, pupils from Taverham Middle School, Easton College’s then principal David Lawrence, and following a light lunch he presented a string of long-service awards before making his way to the grand ring.
At the end of the day, a red four-wheel-drive was waiting to take him to Norwich Airport where he met the queen to fly with her to Scotland for the state opening of the Scottish Parliament.
Henry Cator, the chair of the RNAA at the time, said he was “delighted” the Duke had visited the show, and described it as "a lovely day”.
An extract written by Prince Philip from the 1999 Royal Norfolk Show catalogue:
Everyone who has anything to do with the management of the land recognises that agriculture has changed dramatically and at great speed within the last half century.
One of the most important “engines of change” has been the many county, regional, and national agricultural societies.
They have consistently championed improvements in techniques, but they have never flinched from the difficult task of assessing the impact of changes on the natural environment.
Norfolk is one of the country’s most important agricultural counties, which means that The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, and its Annual Show, have very special responsibilities. They have to show the urban population what agriculture is all about and they have to help the members of the Association to be profitable as well as considerate land managers.
I hope that everyone attending the Show – members, exhibitors, officials, and visitors – will thoroughly enjoy the experience and take home with them new knowledge and new friends.