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VIDEO: Right royal Grand Depart

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A Tour de France route village received a surprise royal visit today as thousands of people gathered to watch the Grand Depart.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry stopped off in West Tanfield this afternoon to cheers from the crowds who had lined the streets since early morning.

Earlier the royal party had helped to start the race at Harewood House near Leeds.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our royal report.

The Yorkshire village, which has brewed its own beer in celebration of being on the Tour route, was chosen to host the royal visit in recognition of its participation in the sporting event.

The royal party arrived in a convoy of Range Rovers and met local dignitaries.

The Duke and Duchess, who was wearing an emerald green coat, then toured West Tanfield, while Prince Harry met the crowds gathered in a nearby entertainment area.

The visitors met and spoke to the crowds of spectators and stall-holders around the village.

Rebecca Wadham, 27, from Leeds, brought her week-old daughter, Poppy May Lawson, to watch the cycling race and met the Duchess.

Ms Wadham said: “She said she had forgotten how tiny babies are when they are newborn and she told me to enjoy the first few weeks.”

Ian Maris, from Cambridge, met Prince Harry.

He said: “Harry asked me who was going to win the Tour and I said that I fancied Mark Cavendish. He said that he had met him earlier and he looked like he was up for it.”

The royal trio then made a brief stop at The Bruce Arms pub, where diners were enjoying a special lobster lunch, before leaving.

There was a carnival atmosphere in West Tanfield as the crowds waited for the Tour to pass through later in the day.

The entertainment, which included stalls, food, music, a fairground and a hot air balloon festival, was the result of a group of villagers who spent the last 14 months organising the weekend.

David Powell, 53, a company director, said the village decided to put on the event an hour after the Stage One route was announced and has held a number of fundraising events.

He said: “A team of us decided to do something a little bit bigger than normal.

“It’s a can-do village. This is the biggest annual sporting event in the world and it’s coming through our village. We’ve got one go at this so we thought we’ve got to give it both barrels.”

The events committee worked with the Pennine Brewing Company to create a special beer - the Tour d’Ale - to commemorate the event.

Tim Butler, assistant brewer, said the golden ale was made from a combination of British and French hops.

He said: “We just got our heads together to see how we could come up with something special for the Tour.”

 

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