PRINCE Edward was the Royal guest as skaters danced and twirled across the ice at a spectacular opening ceremony to the European Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield.
Hundreds of youngsters showed off their skills on the rink at Sheffield Arena in front of the Earl of Wessex - who said the contest promised ‘excitement, drama, tears and joy’.
The ceremony began with a strident fanfare, as budding skaters from competing nations held flags aloft on the ice, before local schoolchildren in day-glo outfits performed a disco routine.
They were also joined by seven older skaters who performed stunning jumps, to the applause of hundreds of spectators.
Prince Edward attended the ceremony as the Queen is a patron of the National Ice Skating Association.
The Earl of Wessex said the ceremony was a ‘very important occasion’.
“In a year that’s likely to dominated by summer sports, it’s especially pleasing to be able to host a winter sport and welcome the finest skaters from around Europe,” he said.
The prince said he was also pleased that Britain was hosting the championships in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.
He added Sheffield showed ‘initiative and conviction’ by bidding successfully for the event.
Liz Littler, chair of the organising committee, said she was ‘delighted’ to be opening the ‘prestigious event’. “It has been a long journey to this moment - there has been so much work to do,” she said.