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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Duke of York takes up ballet role
The Duke of York
The Duke was presented with signed ballet shoes
The Duke of York has formally succeeded the late Diana, Princess of Wales as patron of the English National Ballet (ENB).

Diana was still regarded as the company's figurehead up until this year, despite her death almost four years ago.

ENB chairwoman and former newsreader Angela Rippon welcomed Prince Andrew to his new role on Tuesday.

Princess Diana
Princess Diana had a great love for ballet
On a visit to temporary studios in east London's Bromley-by-Bow, the Duke spent time talking to dancers preparing for their production of Romeo and Juliet.

Brazilian Fernanda Oliveira, who at 19 is the cast's youngest Juliet, presented him with a pair of ballet shoes signed by the company for his daughters, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

She said: "It has all happened so quickly - to come from the cast, into a lead role and then to meet a royal.

"It's a good thing that he is now with us."

Ms Rippon said: "A lot of people do not realise that His Royal Highness has a genuine interest in the ballet and that he is actually very, very knowledgeable about it. He also comes to performances.

"He has had an association with the company for a number of years and it is a perfect match."

Romeo and Juliet opens at the Royal Albert Hall on 13 June before touring Australia.

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