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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Chris Slater & Damon Wilkinson & Tom Molloy & Ethan Davies & Nicole Wootton-Cane

Spies, Corn Flakes and the Three Lions: The King's day in Greater Manchester

Buckingham Palace has hailed a 'fantastic day' after Greater Manchester rolled out the red carpet for the new King. King Charles made his first visit to the region since ascending to the throne following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II last September.

Accompanied by the Queen Consort he mingled with crowds who had gathered to greet them, saw one of LS Lowry's famous paintings up close, spoke to England manager Gareth Southgate and even asked how Manchester United were getting on, during a whirlwind tour.

He also met factory workers, schoolkids and community volunteers amongst others at the four visits in Manchester city centre, Trafford, Bolton and Wythenshawe.

READ MORE: RECAP: King Charles and Camilla visit Greater Manchester

The King arrived in the city on Friday morning on the Royal Train which pulled in at Victoria Station, where he was greeted by the High Sheriff, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Stephen Watson and the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

His motorcade was seen passing down Deaansgate in the city centre as the monarch made an under-the-radar visit to the North West hub of the government intelligence service agency GCHQ., currently housed Heron House just off Albert Square.

King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla and England boss Gareth Southgate at Norbrook Community Centre in Wythenshawe (Getty Images)

King Charles, received ‘several briefings from GCHQ’s mission teams’ and staff trying to inspire the code-breakers, engineers, and mathematicians of the future. He also met people pupils from New Islington Primary School and graduates from GCHQ's Apprenticeship

He then made his way to Trafford where he visited the Kellogg’s factory in Trafford Park to mark the 100th anniversary of the company 'bringing breakfast to Britain.'.

Kellogg’s has been a holder of the Royal Warrant since the reign of King George VI and cereal from the business was historically delivered to Buckingham Palace in a small van called Genevieve.

The King, who previously the historic Traffrord site in 1974 when Prince of Wales, unveiled a plaque commemorating the fiirm's centenary in the country.

During a tour, he met everyone from company bosses to plant staff and cracked jokes with workers with one uttering "It's one special K meeting another" as he watched a cooking demonstration using the brand's famous cereals.

He also saw where legendary household products such as Corn Flakes and Coco Pops are made as well as being briefed on the company's state-of-the-art packaging line and its efforts to reduce its carbon emissions.

The King greets crowds in Bolton (Kenny Brown | Manchester Evening News)

Apprentice Genna Bland-Moore, 23, said the King had been 'incredibly down to earth.' "It's not something I thought I would ever get to do," she said. "He asked me about how I was finding the apprenticeship. He's quite a down-to-earth guy, really. It surprised me that it was a very informal conversation."

The King was then joined by the Queen Consort Camilla for a visit to Bolton, the first visit to the borough by a reigning monarch since 1988. Hundreds of people, many cheering and waving Union flags, gathered to greet them outside the town hall., with the visit celebrating the building's 150th birthday.

It was officially opened in 1873 by then The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Princess Alexandra, with over 150,000 Boltonians turning out to see the Royal couple.

The King looking at L.S. Lowry's Going to the Match' (PA)

After emerging from their car King Charles and the Queen Consort were welcomed with a performance from the Polonez folk dance group.

Dancer Maryla Steadman said: "It was an honour. A few of us got a cryptic message saying 'I need you to dance next Friday, get it off work, I can't tell you anything more but trust me' and then at practise we were told we were performing for the King and Queen Consort. I still can't believe it and it's already happened."

Pupils from Lostock Primary School were among those to meet the monarch. One girl who shook his hand said: "I don't think I'm ever going to wash my hand again." Whilst one of her classmates, Imogen Whittaker described him as an "amazing man" and added: "It's one of the most sensational moments of my life."

Inside the town hall the royal couple met people from numerous charities and organisations in the town, including Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn - the chairman of Bolton's Ukrainian Cultural Centre and Bolton Wanderers chairman Sharon Brittan. .They were also shown 'Going to the Match' - the 1953 L.S. Lowry painting inspired by Bolton Wanderers' old stadium Burnden Park.

Julia Fawcett, chief executive of The Lowry, which recently bought the painting for a record-breaking £8.1 million at auction, said: "They genuinely were so interested to hear about the painting and I got the impression that they were Lowry fans."

Following the Bolton visit, The Royal Family's Twitter account said: "Thank you Bolton for a wonderful welcome for The King and The Queen Consort! It was lovely to meet so many Boltonians and celebrate the work you do in the local community."

The couple then travelled to the opposite side of the region finishing their much-anticipated tour with a visit to Marcus Rashford's old youth club in Wythenshawe.

The King has a kick-about (Vincent Cole - Manchester Evening News)

Another special guest at the visit at Norbrook Community Centre in Northern Moor was Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, an ambassador for The Prince's Trust, the charity founded by King Charles during his time as Prince of Wales.

The King met those regular users of the centre and those involved in numerous community programmes. At one point watched youngsters having a kick about and couldn't resist getting involved kicking the ball back to them as it came towards him.

He also enquired about Manchester United's fortunes as he asked a group of teenagers: 'Are they playing better now?'

Accompanied by Gareth Southgate he sat down to hear the life stories of young people supported by The Prince’s Trus and they received a bookshelf unit crammed with children’s novels donated by the Marcus Rashford Book Club in partnership with the National Literacy Trust.

The Queen Consort hailed the gesture as she took part in a story-telling session with children from St Peter's primary school in Wythenshawe.

The royal couple also met Gavin Evans, chair of the centre's trustees and Marcus Rashford's former youth worker. Afterwards, he described the visit as 'one of the most wonderful moments of my life'. We will never forget it" he said. "Today will be etched on the memories of everyone here."

On Rashford he added: "He has never forgotten this club and what it means to him. Four days before he made his England debut (as an 18-year-old in 2016) in was in here playing pool with his mates.

"I always say to the kids never forget your roots. Marcus Rashford is a huge advocate of that and it's wonderful to see how well he's doing and it's incredibly exciting for the centre to have that connection with him."

Afterwards, the Royal Family account tweeted saying: "What a fantastic day in Greater Manchester! Thank you to everyone who welcomed the The King and The Queen Consort today."

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