EASTLEIGH'S Beatrice Royal Contemporary Art and Craft Gallery will be rolling out the red carpet for a royal visit as it steps up its bid to become a gallery of national importance.

Opened in 1994, the Nightingale Avenue gallery is owned by Tramman Trust - a charity set up by DIY king David Quayle after the sale of the Chandler's Ford B&Q empire.

It is now the largest independent purpose-built gallery in the country, showing the best in contemporary art and design-led craft.

Now its profile is set to be boosted further by a visit on Monday from the Earl and Countess of Wessex. During part of their South Hampshire tour the royal couple will be visiting the gallery to open the Christmas exhibition "Word and Works". The Earl and Countess will meet supporters of the gallery, including representatives of a wide range of the community

Other guests will include the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Mrs Mary Fagan.

A gallery spokeswoman said the aim of the visit was to establish the Beatrice Royal as a gallery of national importance in its field.

She said: "The royal visit can only be of benefit to the Beatrice Royal, helping us to further raise our profile.

"We anticipate the visit being an opportunity to gather together like-minded business people from the local community to forge new and valuable relationships.

"These will take the Beatrice Royal a step further on our continually exciting journey."

The gallery aims to promote and sell work of living artists and to make buying and owning art design-led craft realisable.

Because of the royal visit the gallery will be closed to the public on Monday November 4 but will re-open on the following day at 11 am.

The gallery is open seven days a week from 11am-5pm. There will be late-night shopping until 9pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays from November 13. For details ring 02380510592.