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Crowds welcome Earl and Countess of Forfar on inaugural visit

Residents turned out in force to meet Prince Edward and his wife Sophie on their trip to Scotland.

Royal visit: The Earl and Countess of Forfar.
Royal visit: The Earl and Countess of Forfar. The Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust

The new Earl of Forfar sampled the town's famous bridies as he made his first visit to the area since the ancient title was brought back into use.

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie - who will use the Earl and Countess of Forfar title during Scottish visits - tried the pastry products at McLaren's and Saddler's.

They also received gifts including a fiddle tune composed in their honour and a specially designed Earl of Forfar tartan on what Edward said was a "splendid" welcome to the town.

He received the ancient title in March as a 55th birthday present from his mother, the Queen, which brought it back into use after more than three centuries.

On the first leg of a two-day visit to Scotland, Forfar residents turned out in force to welcome their royal guests.

The couple, who were welcomed by Angus lord lieutenant Georgiana Osborne, were played music by Forfar Instrumental Band and the town's pipe band, and enjoyed a display by dancers from four highland dancing schools.

It concluded with the first performance of the An Angus Welcome to the Earl and Countess of Forfar, composed by well-known local fiddler Sandy Ingram, who played the tune with fellow musicians.

'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.'
Prince Edward

The new earl promised to forge a special connection with the county town of 14,000 people, which sits a few miles east of Glamis Castle, the family seat of the Earls of Strathmore and childhood home of the late Queen Mother.

Edward and Sophie visited St John's Scottish Episcopal Church in Forfar, where she was confirmed, and viewed the register showing her name.

The earl said: "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."

The afternoon town walkabout began with visits to two Forfar bridie 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."

Among the local groups the Earl and Countess met were Forfar Dramatic Society members, young people from the Pitstop Youth Centre and participants in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

Sport: Edward and Sophie learned about The Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust's pioneering work.
Sport: Edward and Sophie learned about The Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust's pioneering work. The Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust

They rounded off the schedule with visits to The Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust to learn about pioneering work to encourage less able-bodied players and autistic youngsters into the game, and a tour of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association training centre on the edge of the town.

Stuart Gray, chair of Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust, said: "We are greatly honoured to have had Their Royal Highnesses see the work of the trust.

"This is well-deserved recognition for everyone involved in these projects benefitting the community of Angus."

The Earl of Forfar title was created in 1661 and first held by Scottish peer Archibald Douglas, the youngest child of the Earl of Angus and 1st Earl of Ormond.

The second Earl of Forfar, also Archibald Douglas, and the only son of the first earl, died on December 8, 1715 at the Battle of Sheriffmuir, aged 23, at which point the title became extinct.

Their two-day Scottish tour will continue in Moray on Tuesday and include a tour of the Glenfiddich whisky distillery.

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