By Oliver Farrimond
VISITORS to the annual Royal Highland Show were treated to a royal visit yesterday, as the Queen made an appearance at the show for the first time in more than twenty years.
Wearing a lime-green coat and matching hat, she began her visit at the handcrafting area before hosting a lunch at stately Ingliston House.
A patron of the show’s organising body, the Royal Highlands and Agricultural Society of Scotland, the Queen was paying a visit to mark the show’s 225th anniversary.
Also in attendance in yesterday’s (Friday’s) show was First Minister Alex Salmond, who embarked on a whistle-stop tour of agricultural vendors, livestock breeders and traditional food stalls.
He said: “I’m delighted to be visiting this year’s Show, which is one of the country’s flagship gatherings, among more than 300 events of this year of Homecoming.
“On display is the very best of Scotland’s quality produce, innovation and culture – this is the great showpiece of Scottish farming and Scottish food production.
“There’s something for everyone here, from farming to food, and fun to frivolity.
“Our farming and other rural industries contribute greatly to our national economic fortune and to communities the length and breadth of Scotland.
Staged at Ingliston near Edinburgh airport, the 2009 show has proved very successful so far, bucking the economic downturn to draw in huge numbers of visitors.
The show’s first day registered record numbers of visitors, and a senior figure in the Scottish farming industry remarked that the numbers of sheep and cattle at the show had also rocketed.
Jim McLaren, president of the National Union of Farmers Scotland, said: “The Royal Highland Show has really become the premier agricultural event in the UK as other shows in England have declined.
“The fact that the Queen is here for the first time in twenty-odd years is very significant as well, and we’re delighted to see her here supporting the show.
“I’ve not been able to see the official attendance figures, but the number of livestock that’s been booked in is way up – the show really is going from strength to strength.”
Also gracing the show were Classical Brit award winners the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, who provided pipe music throughout the day and during the Queen’s public visit.
The show runs until Sunday, with gates opening for show’s fourth and final day at 8am tomorrow (Sunday) morning.