Bolton came to a standstill as His Majesty King Charles III arrived to mark the 150th anniversary of the town hall.
The appearance, part of a tour of Greater Manchester, was the first from a monarch in the town centre in 35 years.
On arrival at the town hall, which was opened by His Majesty’s great-great-grandfather a century and a half ago, King Charles and the Queen Consort were welcomed by a line-up including the Mayor of Bolton Akhtar Zaman, Bolton Council leader Martyn Cox, council chief executive Sue Johnson and MPs.
After a performance by the Polonez Folk Dance Group, Their Majesties were taken inside to see ‘Going to the Match’, the LS Lowry work of Bolton Wanderers supporters outside Burnden Park which was bought by The Lowry at auction last year.
Soon to appear in the town again as the centrepiece of a three-month exhibition, it was secured at the Modern British and Irish Art Sale with support from The Law Family Charitable Foundation.
And King Charles was ‘a fan’, according to the chief executive of The Lowry, Julia Fawcett.
She said: “He was taken with the idea of it coming back to Bolton. I think he might be a fan.”
After a conversation with Cllr Cox in front of a bust of Edward VII, the monarch who opened the town hall when he was still Prince of Wales, Their Majesties split up to meet representatives from a number of charities and organisations at a reception.
Royal Visit in the town hall
Dressed in a single-breasted blue suit, King Charles III seemed in the highest of spirits as he spoke to all the attendees.
Once reunited, Their Majesties were presented with plaque to commemorate the occasion and asked to sign a book.
“January 20…?” King Charles said, looking around the room for approval before signing. “I knew it was,” he added.
The reception concluded with a performance of God Save The King by the Hand Made Sign Language choir.
The crowd cheered as Their Majesties left the town hall and set to speaking with residents and shaking their hands.
Speaking to The Bolton News afterwards, Cllr Cox said: “It was brilliant to see how delighted everyone was to see The King.
“Although he was here for an hour, he got to meet a lot of people who were here to meet him. It was a great day for the town.”
Cllr Zaman added: “It was a huge honour to meet The King and Queen Consort. I spoke to people who were waiting since half past eight this morning. It shows how much the visit is valued by the people of Bolton and the surrounding areas.
“It means a lot to Bolton. It puts Bolton on the national and international scene.”