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Prince Charles meets “mini-me” while visiting Teesside steel plant

While on a visit to Redcar, North Yorkshire, the Prince of Wales discovered his greatest admirer in a young boy who insists on dressing in a smart suit at all times to be like the Prince.

Six year-old Benjamin Cooper was waiting to meet Prince Charles with his sister and parents, who explained his fondness for the first in line to the throne. “I like to dress smart so I can be like Charles,” the little boy said afterwards. “I like him because he was the smartest dressed when we studied them at school.”

Despite this delightful meeting, the Prince was in Redcar for a more sombre occasion. Last year, it was announced that the historic Teesside steel plant was to shut down, which would result in the loss of around 2,000 jobs.

Upon his arrival, the Prince was greeted by a number of enthusiastic well-wishers, including young Ben Cooper. He spent some time talking to members of the multi-agency SSI Task Force which was set up after the announcement of the plant closing, as well as a group of steelworkers who were affected by the decision.

“He asked us if we had started doing any training and if there were any jobs available,” said Peter Rodgers, a former deputy supervisor at the coke ovens who spoke to Prince Charles. “I worked there for over 20 years and was a massive part of my life taken away. I’m not too sure what difference his visit will make but it’s good that he’s come. It hopefully will raise awareness because it seems to have died down now.”

Before leaving, His Royal Highness unveiled a plaque at the Redcar & Cleveland Leisure and Community Heart, and gave a short speech to honour the community’s resilience and ability to find humour in the midst of this crisis.

“I wasn’t really expecting to say anything, but for me it’s the greatest possible pleasure to come back to this part of the world where I know you have been through so many difficult times,” he said. “I remember coming here six years ago during another difficult time but, if I may say so, despite the horrors you have faced, somehow, in this remarkable part of the world, you have these extraordinary reserves of resilience and, above all, the most wonderful sense of humour.”

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