Princess Anne visited Petersfield today to meet volunteers from the Save the Children Fund preparing for their annual big sale.
In tribute to the branch’s 50 successive years of holding the event, the Princess, who is president of the Save the Children Fund, spent more than an hour talking to helpers at the town’s festival Hall.
They have assembled clothes, fashion accessories, household goods and other quality secondhand items to sell over the next three days.
The visit was the most high profile royal event in Petersfield for many years, although it was officially private and not open to the public but attended by dignitaries, members of the charity branch’s committee and volunteers.
After arriving in bright sunshine by helicopter at Love Lane playing fields, the Princess was greeted by flag-waving children from Jigsaw Montesorri nursery and students from Churcher’s College. She was then driven half a mile to the Festival Hall in the centre of town.
Wearing an emerald green coat over a red patterned dress with black knee-high boots and black shoulder bag, she was met by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Mary Fagan and chairman of the SCF committee Pauline Kneen.
Among others attending were the High Sheriff, Rupert Younger, and the chairman of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Andrew Joy, with their wives.
The main object of Princess Anne’s visit was to speak to the charity’s volunteers, thanking them for their work, and she spent more than an hour with the 80 helpers and supporters who had gathered in the hall.
Before she cut a celebratory cake and received a bouquet from five-year-old Aurelia Antrobus, the Princess praised the volunteers for their continuing work for the charity, which provides an emergency response worldwide where children are at risk as well as longer term projects in the UK and abroad.
Pupils from Owls class at Petersfield Infants School waved flags enthusiastically outside the Festival Hall as the fleeting royal visit ended with the Princess being driven back to her helicopter.
SCF branch organisers are hoping the royal endorsement will help them surpass last year’s fund-raising proceeds of £41,700 - the second highest total raised by any branch in the UK.