South Shields couple strike up royal rapport with Princess Eugenie

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A military veteran built up a royal rapport after scooping a date at the palace.

James Swanson-Stobbs, who is chair of The Royal Artillery Association based in Northfield Gardens, South Shields, was invited along with his wife Catherine to represent the forces at a celebrity-packed garden party at Buckingham Palace.

It was a really lovely day which we will never forget.

James Swanson-Stobbs

The pair, from Biddick Hall, South Shields, brought happy memories flooding back for Princess Eugenie, who hosted the gala event alongside her sister Princess Beatrice and their father Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Princess Eugenie studied in Newcastle and was delighted to welcome some visitors from the region to the capital.

The summer bash was organised by the Not Forgotten Association (NFA), a British Armed Forcer charity for serving and ex-service men and women.

Mr Stobbs, 68, who served in the forces for 25 years, said: “We were selected to represent the Royal Artillery Association at the garden party.

“Princess Eugenie was just a really down-to-earth girl.

“She said she studied in Newcastle for three years and lived in Jesmond.

“She spent a good 20 minutes chatting to us. It was a really lovely day which we will never forget.

Wife Catherine, 63, added; “When she heard us talk she said ‘are you Geordie’s?’. She said she loved the area.”

As well as enjoying a royal appointment, the couple mingled with guests such as Peter Andre, Dame Vera Lynn and former Olympic star Fatima Whibread.

The NFA first established its annual Buckingham Palace garden party tradition back in 1921.