PRINCESS ANNE called in on the Great Yorkshire Show today (Wednesday, July 9), where she watched the show’s first ever all-female sheep shearing contest.

The royal arrived in a convoy of blacked-out windowed Range Rovers, being greeted on arrival by a line of dignitaries including North Yorkshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick and show director Bill Cowling.

Mr Cowling’s granddaughter, six-year-old Francesca Kottler, presented the princess with a small cream rose corsage and said the royal visitor asked if she had one too.

Her mother, Ann Kottler, said: “I’m very proud of her. She was very nervous but she did very well.”

The Princess Royal watched the show’s first ever women’s sheep shearing competition, which included two competitors from Stokesley in North Yorkshire, Penny Bell and Alice Petch.

She spoke to contestants waiting in the wings for their turn at shearing. Anna Cowperthwaite, from Lancashire, said she asked about her shearing career and whether it was her full time job.

She said: “I told her it wasn’t, but she was very nice and seemed interested in what we were doing.”

The contest attracted female farmers from North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and New Zealand.

Penny Bell, 23, from Swainby Farm near Stokesley, was one of those competitors who took part while Princess Anne watched on. She has been sheep shearing competitively for three years and does contract shearing for other farms.

She said she didn’t let a royal spectator distract her from her task.

“I didn’t know I would be doing this in front of Princess Anne,” she said.

“I was aware she was watching but I just concentrated on getting the wool off.”

Penny’s father, Andrew, was also competing in the veterans’ sheep shearing section.

The Princess Royal was then whisked to the sheep lines, where she saw a “fleece display” with chief fleece steward Peter Todd, who gave her a brief on the uses of fleece for carpet and clothing; before she met the supreme sheep champion and winners of male and female breed winners.

She then reached the cattle lines to meet winners and presented the Brothers Colling Shorthorn Memorial Cup to the Beef Shorthorn Champion.