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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Royal seal for far north produce
Prince Charles at Castle of Mey launch
The prince said his "beloved grandmother" would be greatly impressed
An initiative, which aims to establish a north Highland brand name like the Duchy Originals in Cornwall, has been launched by Prince Charles.

The North Highland Initiative will produce beef, lamb and mutton under the label, Mey Selections.

The prince is using the setting of the Castle of Mey - formerly the home of the Queen Mother - to announce royal backing for the scheme.

The project has been led by Lord Maclennan of Rogart, formerly an MP.

The prince has already been active in promoting his grandmother's second home and he has now called together tourist operators to help market the area.

Speaking at an official reception at the Castle of Mey in Caithness the prince, known as the Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland, said he was "immensely heartened" by the progress that had been made in planning the initiative.

Remarkable coup

The scheme aims to bring together the Highland farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry in a bid to address the challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland.

In his 10-minute speech in the castle on Tuesday, the prince also revealed that major food outlets including Sainsbury's, Costco and Aberdeenshire Larder had all expressed an interest in marketing produce from the Highlands.

The initiative followed on from talks last April when the prince took business leaders to meet a group of farmers and crofters and discussed the challenges and opportunities for people in the far north of Scotland.

Mey Selections logo
A watercolour painting of the castle by the prince appears on the logo
Charles said he was "immensely heartened" at the progress the scheme had made so far.

He added: "If anybody needed evidence of early success, I only have to point to the fact that beef from this part of the world was served to guests attending the Open Golf Championship at St Andrews a couple of weeks ago.

"This was a really remarkable coup on the part of our initiative, together with the company which I'm delighted to say is represented here today."

The prince said he was sure his "beloved grandmother" would be greatly impressed by the initiative.

Charles is expected to return to Scotland for a visit to the RNLI station at Scrabster on Thursday after attending the funeral of King Fahd in Saudi Arabia.

Royal association

He will also attend the Mey Highland Games on Saturday, to which the Duchess of Cornwall is expected to accompany him.

A spokeswoman for Clarence House said a watercolour painted in recent years by Charles would feature on the packaging of all Mey Selections produce.

The view of the Castle of Mey from a walled garden in the grounds was not specifically created to be used as part of the initiative but is being reproduced with the prince's permission.

It is thought by using the picture for the Mey Selections brand, it will help bring together the Castle of Mey's long royal association with the produce of the area.

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