Video & Gallery: Prince Charles visits St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Theatre Royal and Pakenham Water Mill

PRINCE Charles has visited Suffolk for a tour of three of the region’s best known attractions.

Prince Charles greeted cheering crowds as he arrived at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds and Pakenheam water mill today as part of his Royal visit to the area.

As president of The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, the prince was greeted by Colin Blumenau, the theatre’s artistic director, before enjoying a visit around the 191-year-old Regency playhouse which has recently undergone a �5.3million restoration.

His Royal Highness sat in the playhouse’s new box seats to watch a rehearsal performance by the ballet group Black Swan then met dancers on stage.

Young pupils from Hillside Primary School in Ipswich then performed a short routine for the Royal guest as part of a project with DanceEast.

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Mr Blumenau said is had been a fantastic visit.

“The prince was really surprised at how fantastically beautiful the theatre is,” he said.

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“It is great that the establishment feel it fitting to recognise what is happening in this building, which is like gold dust.”

Royal fever had begun earlier in the day as the prince arrived at St Edmundsbury Cathedral shortly after 11am today to mark the completion of two major projects in 2010.

A small crowd gathered outside the Cathedral to welcome the heir to the throne to the town.

Dressed in a grey suit, brown shoes and a striped tie, Prince Charles was greeted outside the cathedral by Rev Dr Frances Ward, Cathedral Dean and Right Reverend Nigel Stock, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

Hundreds of specially invited guests including dignitaries and those involved in the Millennium project stood as Prince Charles made his way to the Nave Sanctuary to be seated.

He listened to talks by Henry Freeland, of Freeland, Rees Roberts Architects, and Mark Venning, the managing director of Harrison and Harrison.

Mr Freeland spoke about the vaulted ceiling project while Mr Venning spoke about the new organ.

As patron of the cathedral’s Millennium Project, the prince then got the chance to inspect the vividly-coloured vaulted ceiling which was completed in March 2010.

He went on to sign the cathedral visitors book and meet the cathedral’s 18 choristers and eight probabtioners before heading upstairs to try his hand at playing the organ.

The cathedral’s director of music James Thomas said: “It was a great honour and privilege to show his royal highness the organ loft. It is a journey not very many people get to make.”

The Prince’s visit was completed with a trip to Pakenham Water Mill.

He was greeted on arrival by a crowd of around 30 people.

During an hour tour of the mill, he spoke to volunteers and had a chance to see the mill in action.

Those who spoke to the Prince were impressed with how relaxed and friendly he was.

Sandy Jackson, a volunteer, said: “You totally forgot he was royalty - he was quite humorous and easy to talk to.”

Featuring in the Doomsday book, the mill is now run by a team of dedicated volunteers who continue the tradition.

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