THE Earl of Wessex opened the new Territorial Army Centre in Worcester and gave it his royal seal of approval.

Prince Edward unveiled a plaque at the centre at 214 (Worcester Battery), part of 104 Regiment Royal Artillery (volunteers), based at Dancox House in Lowesmoor.

The Prince was also presented with a bottle of iconic Worcestershire sauce as he was welcomed by soldiers and dignitaries during the ceremony yesterday and got to see for himself the results of a £75 million project to regenerate the area.

The battery commander Major Stephen Dwyer said: “It is an absolute honour and a privilege to have the Earl of Wessex to attend here, especially as the TA is now taking a greater role in the regular army.”

Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler, commander of the Army in the West Midlands, said: “I think it’s a really exciting time to be in the Territorial Army. The centre is a bold vision of where we’re going. It is a building that’s fit for purpose. It has all the things a modern soldier requires from classrooms to armouries to a gym. It’s just the right environment to introduce people into the Territorial Army.”

Earlier in the day Prince Edward attended Malvern Theatres in Grange Road dressed in full military regalia to be greeted by a welcoming party of local dignitaries including the town’s mayor Ian Hopwood, chairman of Malvern Hills District Council Paul Tuthill, MP Harriett Baldwin and the theatre’s chief executive Nic Lloyd.

During his visit the Prince, who used to be involved with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Company, met people taking part in the Make Your Mark creative therapy workshops, saw rehearsals for the production of Great Expectations and was treated to a performance by the Chance to Dance group.

While unveiling a commemorative plaque, the Prince praised the work of the theatre and the importance of the arts. He said: “These things are precious and we should look after them, nurture them and encourage them.”

Mr Lloyd said: “We are perceived quite rightly as being very successful lottery-funded project and this was a reward for the success this theatre has had. I am delighted it was Prince Edward because he is a theatre man himself.

“It was very good for him to talk to the staff and people connected to the theatre. He understands the ups and downs because he has been there. It was a great pleasure and he was a charming man.”