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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 13:02 GMT
Prince keeps B&B promise
Prince of Wales outside B&B
Prince Charles showed support for the rural economy
The Prince of Wales has honoured a promise to help the rural economy by enjoying a two-night stay at a Cumbrian bed-and-breakfast farm.

He used his room at Yew Tree Farm in the Lake District as a base for a brief walking holiday.

Prince Charles booked all three of the B&B's en-suite rooms for himself and security officers.

He said: "It's a marvellously cosy place - very special, and they are doing a wonderful operation here."

I put the phone down and thought 'oh wow'

Hazel Relph
The idea for the holiday came last September, when the prince visited the Lake District to meet farmers and others businesses hit by the devastation of foot-and-mouth disease.

On Yew Tree Farm alone, 320 of the 2,500 Herdwick sheep had to be slaughtered.

Prince Charles spoke to several farmers at the Flock Inn, a coffee shop run by Hazel and Joe Relph on the farm, and later had a brief tour of their farmhouse, which they part-converted to B&B a few years ago.

Mrs Relph said: "When the prince visited us in September, we were at our lowest ebb and he said he would do everything he could to help.

One of the guest house's bedrooms
"I told him he should come and stay, but warned him to make sure he booked far in advance."

Weeks later the prince's assistant private secretary, Elizabeth Buchanan rang to make a reservation.

Mrs Relph said: "At the time, it didn't really sink in and I was treating it just like any other inquiry, saying, 'Ok, that day's not free, but this one is', until we found suitable dates.

"Then I put the phone down and thought 'oh wow'."

His visit to the 25-a-night farmhouse was shrouded in secrecy, with no one but the Relphs in the tiny village of Rosthwaite, Borrowdale, knowing the identity of the peak-capped figure who marched off into the Cumbrian hills on rain-swept walks.

St James's Palace waited until the prince had checked out of the B&B on Thursday before announcing his stay.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"A boost to the Cumbrian tourist industry"
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