Looking back on the Queen's visits to the Royal Welsh show and the affection farmers had for her

The year was 1947, and Britain was still finding stability and strength after the six long years of the Second World War.

During those long years, the Royal Welsh Show had not taken place, and in those days, the Show moved from town-to-town across Wales.

In 1947, it was held in Carmarthen, and was to be the first Royal Welsh visited by a young Princess Elizabeth.

She was made an Honorary President for that year, and records from the time say her speech referred to 'this lovely land of Wales', as crowds gathered to give her cheers and ovation.

Princess Elizabeth was to remain a firm friend of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society over the course of the next few years, and upon her father's death in 1952, she took on the role of the Society's Patron.

As Queen she returned to the Royal Welsh Show on numerous occasions, and in 1983 in particular, she was treated to some spectacular summer sunshine.

On this visit, the Show had settled in its permanent home at Llanelwedd near Builth Wells, and the Queen - herself a devoted breeder of horses and livestock - took a real interest in the animals on display.

Andrew Bayley-Machin was six years old, and showing his Welsh pony. He won first prize, and was presented with a red rosette from Her Majesty the Queen.

In 2018, Andrew sadly passed away, but had told ITV Cymru Wales earlier that year of his memories of that special day.

"She asked the pony's name and it was Penny. Hafod Pennant was the show name, but Penny at home. She said what a beautiful pony she was.

"She's had horses since she was a child, and so have I. I've been in a very fortunate position that I can carry on with horses, and that's what I'm still doing here today."

The Queen's most recent visit to the Royal Welsh Show was in the society's centenary year of 2004.

I can remember standing alongside the main ring myself as a 19 year-old passionate country girl waiting to see a glimpse of Her Majesty dressed in green, and making her way to the Royal Box in the grandstand. 

When the Queen last visited the Royal Welsh Show in 2004. Credit: PA Images

Harry Fetherstonhaugh, himself the President of the Royal Welsh in 2022, was also the Show's Honorary Director for 25 years. He has vivid recollections of accompanying the Queen at Llanelwedd as the society celebrated one hundred years. She cast her eye over the Welsh Cob stallions on that wonderful Wednesday.

"Hopefully for her, she was going to see something that she loved. She was seeing cattle and horses, and she was seeing quite a lot of activity in the main ring. And she met some exhibitors and she gave the odd prize.

"And to do something that you get a buzz from must be great. And certainly we had an enormous buzz from Her Majesty being here, and hopefully she got a buzz from being here too."

Since news of her death was received at the Royal Welsh Showground, the flags there have been flying at half-mast. A book of condolence will also be opened for board members to sign when they meet tomorrow.

Returning to the Royal Welsh Show as Queen, taking on the role as the Society's Patron.

The Chief Executive of the Society, Steve Hughson, sent his sympathies to the Royal Family, and paid tribute to the late Queen.

"The Queen has provided steadfast support and guidance to our country and others across the world, and I am lucky to have experienced her curiosity, humour and deep sense of duty first-hand. These are memories that will never leave me."

The Society will shortly write to the Royal Family to pass on their deepest condolences, and now hopes to continue that rich relationship with the Royal Family through King Charles III, who visited the Show most recently in 2013 and 2019 as Prince of Wales.

In the meantime, as the nation mourns the loss of Her Majesty the Queen, there is a gratitude for the enthusiasm and energy she gave to all aspects of British rural life throughout the seventy years of her reign.

And here in Wales, few will forget seeing her smile whenever she stepped foot in the Welsh countryside.