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Rutland welcomes The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh visited Rutland for the first time on Tuesday 14 May.

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Duke of Edinburgh meeting crowds at the Queen Elizabeth II memorial statue
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Duke of Edinburgh meeting crowds at the Queen Elizabeth II memorial statue

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh visited Rutland for the first time on Tuesday 14 May. Highlights of the visit included Rutland Showground – home to one of the oldest County Shows in the country, Oakham Castle, the recently unveiled statue of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and Rutland Water.

The Duke and Duchess were welcomed to the Rutland County Showground by Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland Dr Sarah Furness, before traveling to Oakham Castle – the oldest court in the country and one of the finest surviving examples of Norman domestic architecture in Europe. Upon arrival at the Castle, Their Royal Highnesses were greeted by hundreds of children from Oakham primary schools before being invited to forfeit a symbolic horseshoe by Rutland County Council Chairman Andrew Brown. 

The Duke and Duchess presented an unusual double horseshoe, which will join others displayed in the Great Hall, having been presented by past Monarchs and members of the Royal Family who visited Rutland. This includes the late Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II in 1967 and King Charles III (as Prince of Wales) in 2003. 

The horseshoe presented by The Duke and Duchess was received by Lord of the Manor Joss Hanbury. It was made by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, of which The Duchess is Hon. Colonel in Chief. Following the presentation, Their Royal Highnesses met staff and volunteers who help to run Oakham Castle, before being introduced to RAF Cadets and Duke of Edinburgh Award Students from Rutland’s Secondary Schools.

After concluding their tour of the Castle, The Duke and Duchess walked a short distance through Oakham’s historic marketplace to the County Library and Queen Elizabeth II memorial statue. Inside the library, Their Royal Highnesses met members of Rutland’s Statue Committee, along with local school children Molly Banham (5) and Freddie Newham (9), who won a competition held as part of the statue unveiling in April.

After leaving the library, The Duke and Duchess met MP for Rutland and Melton Alicia Kearns, former Mayor of Oakham Sally-Anne Wadsworth and representatives from Oakham in Bloom, before becoming the first members of the Royal Family to view the recently unveiled statue of Queen Elizabeth II. The memorial itself was commissioned by Lord-Lieutenant Dr Sarah Furness and created by sculptor Hywel Pratley, who was present alongside representatives from Gateley Smithers Purslow Architectural Services and Palmers of Oakham, involved in construction of the statue’s plinth.

After viewing the statue, The Duke and Duchess spent time speaking to crowds who had gathered around Oakham Library Gardens to welcome them, before travelling to Rutland Water to meet representatives of the Discover Rutland Tourism Committee and enjoy a trip on the Rutland Belle. The Rutland Belle is one of the County’s most unique visitor attractions – offering boat trips around the reservoir and nature reserve, as well as guided excursions to see ospreys which nest there.

The Duke and Duchess’ visit to Rutland concluded back at the County Showground, where Their Royal Highnesses met representatives of the Rutland Agricultural Society. This was followed by a tour of the Duke of Edinburgh Memorial Garden, unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester in 2021, and time spent learning about a community gardening project run by Root and Branch Out CIC. The project uses gardening to aid learning and provide therapeutic support for local children.

Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh - Image Gallery - May Royal visit

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