The Earl and Countess of Wessex made their first to his new earldom yesterday, Forfar, and will spend the next two days carrying out a number of engagements in the Scottish town, whose population numbers just over 14,000. Forfar residents turned out in force to welcome their royal guests.
The Queen gave Edward the title of Earl of Forfar to mark the occasion of his 55th birthday in March earlier this year.
Today was the first time the couple visited Forfar since he received the honour, and Prince Edward marked the occasion by wearing a red and grey tartan kilt, specially designed for him by the Strathmore Woollen Company, a local business.
The new Earl and Countess of Forfar were welcomed by the local Beavers, the 3rd scout group from the town’s St Margaret Church. They listened to a performance of ‘An Angus Welcome to the Earl and Countess of Forfar,’ written for the couple by Angus musician Sandy Ingram, a former procurator fiscal at the town’s sheriff court.
Edward commented on the “splendid” welcome the locals had given them, while Sophie stopped to talk to a group of local children as the royal couple walked along Castle Street.
The Forfar Instrumental Band welcomed the Royals to the town and Edward went on to meet local businesses and community groups during the visit.
The new Earl promised to forge a special connection with the county town, which is near his grandmother’s ancestral home, saying: “I can’t guarantee we will necessary visit Forfar or Angus every year but we will do our best to keep in touch and take an extra special interest in all the activities that go on here.”
Edward and Sophie visited St John’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Forfar, where she was confirmed, and viewed the register showing her name.
The afternoon town walkabout began with visits to two Forfar bridie (meat pasty) makers – McLaren’s and Saddler’s. At McLaren’s, the Earl and Countess met the fifth, sixth and seventh generations of the firm, before moving on to the nearby premises of Saddler’s.
Morna Saddler, of the firm, said: “They were absolutely fantastic visitors, asked about the origins of the bridie and were very happy to try it.”
On their visit, the Royals met the Forfar Dramatic Society, Strathmore Rugby Club and members of an award-winning ladies cycling group.
Thank you to TRH The Earl & Countess of Forfar for their visit to @StrathCommTrust yesterday. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have you along to witness our community projects – the Rugby Academy, Strathmore Clan Unified RFC & Autism-friendly Rugby for children@RoyalFamily pic.twitter.com/sojfDeCB4o
— Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust (@StrathCommTrust) July 2, 2019
The Lord Lieutenant of Angus, Mrs Georgiana Osborne said local groups had been preparing non-stop in order to offer a multi-faceted showcase of life in Forfar. “We have a huge variety of things lined up for the Earl and Countess of Forfar to see and by the end of their visit they will have met so many people of all ages involved in businesses, groups and organisations in the town,” she said.
Forfar Pipe Band also performed and dancers from the town’s four Highland Dancing schools combined to put on a special display for the Wessexes.
They went on to meet the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association where they were greeted enthusiastically by the eager dogs who licked Sophie’s face.
Mrs Osborne was reported this was the biggest event to happen in Forfar since The Queen’s visit in 2004.
The title of Earl of Forfar has not been held since 1715, when the second Earl died leaving no children. The title is especially touching as Forfar is close to Glamis Castle in the county of Angus. Glamis was the ancestral family home of the Earl’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, who was herself a daughter to the 14th Earl of Strathmore.
The Earl and Countess of Forfar during a visit to the Guide Dogs training centre in Forfar.
— PA Images (@PAImages) July 2, 2019
Edward and Sophie will be called The Earl and Countess of Forfar title during Scottish visits.
For information on what the Countess was wearing, head to our sister site, Replicate Royalty.