Princess Royal visits Fareham

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FLAGS waved and crowds cheered as Fareham welcomed the Princess Royal on a tour of the town centre.

Hundreds turned out to watch her take the salute from HMS Collingwood, as members of the navy’s training base carried out a freedom march.

VISIT Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visits Fareham.   Picture: Allan Hutchings (120974-249)

VISIT Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visits Fareham. Picture: Allan Hutchings (120974-249)

Princess Anne was on hand to open the redesigned play area in the West Centre precinct.

Originally opened to mark the Millennium, it has been given a revamp for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

As her car arrived by the West Street podium, the princess was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, who introduced her to waiting local dignitaries before she inspected the guard and ratings.

Twins James and Adrian Higgins-Cabo, four, were invited to the march as guests after they took part in the consultation for the new play area.

Dad Dave Higgins said: ‘The boys were really happy to meet a real princess.

‘They were standing next to her, but they didn’t speak with her in the end.

‘They got a bit shy and wanted to play instead.’

The boys were also invited to a special reception afterwards at Ferneham Hall where they were hoping to give the princess a framed photograph taken by their mother of Fort San Sebastian in Cadiz, where she’s from.

Hazel Ricketts, of Kings Road in Fareham, was there with daughter Katie, two.

Mrs Ricketts said: ‘Katie’s been desperate to get into the new playground.

‘And she wanted to see the princess – she’s been waving her flag and enjoying the band’s music.

‘It’s nice to have something to celebrate and see a member of the royal family.

‘I’ve lived here for 12 years and it’s the first time I’ve seen anyone from the royal family come here. I thought she was very good.’

The Princess’s visit to Fareham yesterday marked the start of the area’s celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

It was a chance to see HMS Collingwood exercise its right to march through the town with bayonets fixed, colours flying and drums beating, having been given the freedom of the borough in 1974.

There was a moment of unintentional humour, bringing laughter from the crowd, as the mayor of Fareham, councillor Trevor Cartwright accidentally interrupted the sailors’ orders when he went to address the crowd.

Cllr Cartwright, who presented the princess with a framed scroll of loyalty, said: ‘On behalf of the people of Fareham, it is a great honour to grant permission for HMS Collingwood to march through Fareham.

‘But this is no ordinary freedom march, it is being held to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

‘On behalf of Fareham Borough Council and the people of Fareham, I offer our loyal greetings to Her Majesty the Queen.

‘And we have been very honoured that in recognition of this special occasion, Her Royal Highness has been invited to Fareham.’

Princess Anne is renowned for her close ties to the navy and last visited HMS Collingwood in 2009 to present medals to sailors returning from duty in Afghanistan.

Commodore Mike Mansergh, the commanding officer at HMS Collingwood, said: ‘This is a very fitting moment to personally thank Her Royal Highness for the unstinting support she has given to HMS Collingwood and the Royal Navy, and to thank the people of Fareham for their generosity, their support and the close and very special binds of friendship inherent in our shared community.’