The final day on the Harrogate showground – which once again defied the forecast by remaining as dry as the gin they were serving – had the added frisson of a Royal visit.
The crowd that had squeezed in to see the fashion show was left in no doubt that there was to be a “special guest”, but Prince Andrew’s identity was not revealed to them until he had taken his seat. At least his presence gave the unusually large proportion of men in the audience the opportunity to say that it was he they had come to see, not the models.
Other than the one that had been reserved for the Duke, there was not a seat to be had in the marquee, and barely any standing room, as two “celebrity models” stepped out.
In a cloud of dry ice, the weather forecaster Owain Wyn Evans, and the self-styled ‘Red Shepherdess’, Hannah Jackson, had been recruited to add yet more glamour to the catwalk. Mr Evans provocatively flashed his jacket label at Andrew, while Ms Jackson cut a more demure figure in a black poncho, white slacks and a feathered trilby.
But it was the designer in whom Andrew seemed most interested. Sarina Dean had created her fashion label Galijah – a contraction of the names of her children, Gabriel and Elijah – to promote her collection of “countryside chic” tweeds, which she produces on her family’s 190-acre farm at Oldstead, near York.
She and Andrew exchanged words during the show. He had remarked on the novelty in today’s mass-produced world of showing tweeds on the catwalk, she said.
Charles Mills, the show director, cut a more traditional figure, in pin striped suit, bowler hat and crook, as he showed the Duke around the showground.
The machinery lines, on which agricultural suppliers display their latest wares, was their next port of call, and the Duke appeared to be impressed and perhaps surprised at the size and price of the £140,000 Maserati Blue tractor – the name refers only to the colour – shown him by Paul Russell, of the Russell Group in Malton.
A beast of a machine, its rear wheels are 6ft high and it could, said Mr Russell, almost drive itself.
The Duke did not fail to ask him the obvious question of how farmers could hope to afford such a machine.
The answer law in increased yields and productivity, Mr Russell, said, not to mention the climate control satellite guidance and air suspension that came as standard.
Mr Mills, a farmer himself, with 500 acres of mostly arable land at Appleton Roebuck, near Selby, said Andrew’s question was not uncommon.
“Farmers today are doing much more machinery sharing, and that’s the only way we can survive,” he said.