BARROW’S industrial and natural hotspots were given a royal seal of approval.

The Earl of Wessex enjoyed a tour around Barrow’s biggest employer BAE Systems Submarines to see the latest maritime developments.

HRH Prince Edward was then given a welcoming at St Mary’s Living Well Centre before being whisked away to Walney, where the royal unveiled the new South Walney nature reserve visitor centre.

Prince Edward met BAE employees who are working on three Astute class submarines.

One of those he spoke to was Nathan Borowski, a first year electrical apprentice. Nathan said: "This experience has definitely helped to give me confidence about my presentation skills."

St Mary’s chief executive Val Stangoe said: “This building has been created as a joyful, friendly space for people living with all kinds of illnesses. We want to raise its profile of so everyone in Furness knows they can come here to join in activity. Who better to help us raise that profile than The Earl of Wessex?"

Sarah Dalrymple, warden at South Walney Nature Reserve, said: “It was great for him to come to our area and he expressed personal interest in bird-watching.

“His Royal Highness has given us great exposure to all the hard work our volunteers are doing in South Walney to preserve animal habitats.

“We introduced him to our new seal-watching centre, where we can observe sealife without disturbance.

“The visit also gave The Earl of Wessex a chance to speak to some of the area’s younger people, including children from South Walney Infant School, who were learning about micro sealife.”

After the official opening ceremony, The Earl of Wessex was taken to South Walney’s famous Oyster Farm, where site manager Kelsey Thompson took HRH on a grand tour.

Mr Thompson said: “It was quite unusual welcoming a royal to our Walney shores, but it was an incredible experience. I spoke to Prince Edward about how we’re regenerating native European oysters.

“What we’re working to achieve is to kickstart these native oyster back into the wild."