Tyne & Wear

Prince Charles visits Auckland Castle and RAF Boulmer

Prince Charles is shown around Auckland Castle by Jonathan Ruffer
Image caption Prince Charles took a keen interest in the Zurbaran paintings

Prince Charles was given a tour of Auckland Castle in County Durham and an RAF station in Northumberland as part of his two-day visit to the North East.

The prince was told about Olympic Games air security measures at RAF Boulmer in Alnwick.

At Auckland Castle, he was shown the Zurbaran paintings by philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, who paid £15m to help secure the artwork for the region.

In a speech, Prince Charles thanked Mr Ruffer for his dedication.

The 17th Century religious paintings, depicting Jacob and his sons, have hung in the castle for more than 250 years.

'Great honour'

Volunteers from the Prince's Trust were introduced to the prince in the castle grounds.

He also met business owners and community groups in Alnwick, Amble and Warkworth.

While in Alnwick, RAF Boulmer's commander, Group Captain Paul Atkinson, said the first royal engagement at the base since 1993 was a huge boost to morale.

He said: "We are very proud to have him here. He was very interested to hear about what we do - he was fascinated.

"It's fantastic for people's morale to see the heir to the throne here and it's a great honour."

The prince called in at the Pride of Northumbria community shop, which sells locally produced goods, and met those who have taken part in various community projects.

Prince Charles will stay at Alnwick Castle with the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland before visiting the county's coast on Tuesday.

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