VIDEO: Harrogate welcomes Charles and Camilla

VIDEO: Harrogate welcomes Charles and Camilla

Published at 6:02am 18th February 2016. (Updated at 6:15pm 19th February 2016)

The Prince of Wales has described the Harrogate International Festivals as a "national treasure".

He gave an impromptu speech during a special event at the Royal Hall to celebrate the arts charity's 50th anniversary.

Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, met supporters, staff and beneficiaries and the event showcased the diversity of the Festivals' programmes.

They heard about the charity's outreach and education work from Musical Mums, a singing group for young mums and their babies, and Kids, Spies and Private Eyes, which is a literary initiative with schools across the region.

The couple then enjoyed a recital performance from musicians including soprano Lesley Garrett CBE and clarinettist Emma Johnson MBE, who were introduced on stage by Julian Lloyd Webber.

Lesley, who is Vice President of Harrogate International Festivals, said: "What is so wonderful about the Festival is its long-standing tradition of delivering such high standards in international music, but also its commitment to offering a platform to new young musicians and performers. I was one of them.

"Without these kinds of opportunities and the support of audiences, emerging young musicians are at risk. I was lucky to have the support of the Festival, who took the risk of investing in me when I was unknown."

Julian Lloyd Webber and Emma Johnson are 'Future 50 Vice Presidents', alongside authors, business leaders and philanthropists, who are backing the campaign to raise £1 million to safeguard the next 50 years of the charity.

Charles and Camilla's next engagement was a tour of the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate District Hospital, where they met patients and staff.

The couple were then shown around Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate.

They visited the tea tasting room at Taylors to find out more about tea buying and the business's commitment to strong ethical trading relationships, before meeting staff at Bettys Craft Bakery and young chefs at Bettys Cookery School.

They were invited to create their own special tea blend and watch the finishing touches being made to Easter eggs for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Lesley Wild, Chair of the Group Board and member of the Bettys family, said: "We welcomed His Royal Highness to Bettys in Harrogate in 2003, making this the second time The Prince of Wales has personally requested a visit to our business.

"It's a significant honour and recognises our commitment to quality, service and the work we do to put social and environmental responsibilities at the heart of our business."

The business has previously been recognised with Queen's Awards for Sustainable Development and holds a Royal Warrant of Appointment as Suppliers of Beverages to The Prince of Wales.