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The Earl and Countess of Wessex were given a crash course in country sports when they visited the New Forest and Hampshire County Show today.

The Royal Couple began their tour of the showground by visiting the Countryside area, where they both tried their hand at fly fishing.

They also visited the Wessex Ferret Club, but resisted the temptation to handle any of the animals they were shown.

After inspecting a batch of weapons on show at the Police Countrywatch stand, the Earl and his wife visited the pro hunting Countryside alliance.

But in keeping with the Royal tradition of never getting involved in politics, they avoided the thorny issue of whether the ban on hunting with hounds should be repealed. Countryside alliance member Alison Hawes said: “We talked about mobile coverage and broadband coverage.”

After the leaving the Countryside area the Royal couple split up, ensuring they saw the whole showground between them.

While the Earl headed for the food hall, his wife made her way to the discovery zone, where she watched a group of children enjoying a fencing lesson.

Later she visited the cattle area, stroking one of the cows and chatting to some of the people exhibiting their animals.

This afternoon the Earl and Countess sat in the President’s box and watched the Heavy Horse Musical Jive, the only events of its type in the country.

Horse drawn wagons trundled around the area as loud speakers played Abba songs and music from Grease.

Later, the Royal couple presented a series of awards.

Recipients included Lee Winter, 32, of Fritham, who was named Best Young Farmer and Commoner.

The award for best local produce went to Setley Ridge Farmshop near Brockenhurst which is run by Andrew Alvis and Jane Overall.

The Earl and Countess left by helicopter a few minutes later.