PRINCESS Anne has made a surprise visit to Worcestershire.

HRH The Princess Royal officially opened the fish viewing gallery on the River Severn at Diglis, and planted a tree at St Barnabas C Of E Primary School for the Queen’s Green Canopy Initiative during the visit to the county on Friday.

Princess Anne entered the viewing gallery - the only one of its type in England - that has been built below the water level of the river. It features a five square metre window giving a unique opportunity to spot wild fish navigating the fish pass on their way to important spawning grounds up the river.

She was accompanied by Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal and River Trust, the lead delivery partner of the Unlocking the Severn project.

The Princess Royal learned how visitors learn about the rare migratory fish on the River Severn and unveiled a commemorative plaque.

Princes Anne was given a tour of the manmade lock island in the middle of the River Severn - including the Victorian workshop which has been transformed into a flexible visitor space - and met those involved in the project, including representatives from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which has helped fund it.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal and River Trust, said: “It was an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to learn more about this impressive conservation project and officially open such a unique visitor destination.

"We were thrilled to start giving people the chance to glimpse the wild fish within the UK’s longest river.

"The underwater viewing gallery offers a completely new way to engage with river wildlife that are for so many people out of sight and out of mind."

Meanwhile Princess Anne also visited the Green Lane-based school to plant the celebration tree awarded to them for the initiative, that has been organised nationally to encourage the planting of trees to create a legacy in honour of The Queen’s 70th jubilee next year.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Lt Col Patrick Holcroft, said: “I am delighted that HRH The Princess Royal was able to plant a ‘celebration tree’.

"The Lieutenancy, with the enthusiastic and generous support of Worcestershire County Council, began planting trees in the winter of 2020, and we are currently developing further planting initiatives involving the public in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the creation of a wonderful legacy for the county.”

Sarah Hanson, the school's headteacher, said: “It has been a real honour to host HRH The Princess Royal and for us to be chosen as the school to launch the ‘plant a tree for the jubilee’ initiative in Worcestershire.

"Outdoor learning is such a key part of our curriculum, and our responsibility to sustainability within our local community is a driving factor. The children will never forget this exceptional day."

The school already has a sustainability project as part of its curriculum where children create and care for an allotment area and then share their learning with the rest of the school.

St Barnabas has recently acquired the lease of a piece of land that was pastureland, next to a local allotment which runs alongside the alleyway by the school, where the school plans to create a second forest school area.