Princess ‘down to earth’ with farmers at Balmoral

By Rachel Hessin

Princess Anne gave a “great boost” to Northern Ireland’s biggest agricultural show when she visited on day one of the 150th anniversary of Balmoral Show.

The royal talked to many traders on her visit, including machinery firm TBF Thompson – which is a partner with the Huntington’s Disease Association Northern Ireland.

When she met Raymond Crilly, managing director, and Seamus Doherty, director, bystanders said the trio seemed to be having a good time.

Princess Anne also met with the president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, Ivor Ferguson. The pair previously met four years ago at a Harper Adams lunch.

Ferguson described the royal as “very approachable and very down-to-earth” and “fully up-to-speed with what happens in farming”.

Ferguson told AgriLand they talked about the centenary of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, farming in Northern Ireland and the challenges faced by farmers in the region.

He added that Princess Anne was “quite surprised” Northern Ireland did not have its own Air Ambulance Service before now.

“It’s been going in the rest of the UK for a long time,” he said.

He added that the Princess “recognises the importance of our show here in Northern Ireland”.

She even got to know some members of the local media.

Photographers working in the 150th anniversary display – who got to meet Princess Anne – described her as “very, very relaxed” and “very interested in what we were doing”.

The princess also visited the Women’s Institute (WI) tent. Chairperson Collette Craig described the royal as “really down-to-earth and very interested in the WI”.

They talked about the costumes and membership of the WI. Although the WI has young members, they are looking to attract more.

The WI offers the opportunity to learn how to cook, bake, flower arrange, crochet and sew.

Princess Anne was interested in the WI theme this year – musicals.

This resulted in flowers being arranged into a carousel – after the 1945 musical with the same name. Tortes were also baked to commemorate the Sound of Music.