HAMPSHIRE rolled out the red carpet for a series of royal visits as the Earl and Countess of Wessex spent the day visiting the county.

For Titchfield the day was extra special, as it was the first time a member of the royal family had visited the village for more than 150 years.

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Sophie Wessex was greeted by children of Bitterne Park, Cantell and Hounsdown schools when she visited University Hospital Southampton to open the University of Southampton’s new LifeLab facility.

LifeLab was launched in 2008 to encourage youngsters to be healthy by teaching them the science behind exercise, health and nutrition.

The facility at Southampton General Hospital was completed in September and since then 1,000 schoolchildren from across Hampshire have used its equipment to monitor their strength, heart rates and do DNA tests.

Their 1,000th student, Kayleigh Barnes, 12, from Bitterne Park School, presented the countess with a posy after a plaque was unveiled.

Sophie then went to The Square in Titchfield where she visited the building where The Haven in Wessex, a new breast cancer support centre, will be based.

It will provide one-to-one support for the 3,000 breast cancer patients within the region and is due to open early next year.

The countess is president of The Haven Guardians, the charity’s group of key supporters.

The last time the village had a royal visitor was when Queen Victoria’s sons, Prince Edward and Prince Arthur, visited the church in 1858.

The countess also visited the Wessex Dance Academy in Winchester and met organisers of the New Forest Show, of which she is patron.

Meanwhile Prince Edward visited Minstead Training Trust in the New Forest, which provides training and life skills to adults with learning difficulties.

He planted a plum tree, was given a tour of the workshops and was presented with two bats and a bowl made by the students.

The students also made a wooden plaque to be placed next to the tree.

The earl was then given a tour of the Port of Southampton and met with staff and passengers waiting to embark on P&O’s cruise ship Oriana.

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The royal couple, who this year celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary, then visited Winchester Cathedral together.

As patron of Winchester Cathedral, Prince Edward was greeted by members of the clergy including the Bishop of Winchester, The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, The Dean of Winchester, The Very Reverend James Atwell and The Vice-Dean and Canon Chancellor, The Reverend Canon Dr Roly Riem.

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They were also introduced to a group of Year 6 children from Western Primary School who were taking part in a workshop about the story of William Walker the diver.

Later they witnessed the choristers rehearsing for the weekend services and were shown the 12th century Winchester Bible and Morley Library.