LOWTHER Show was always a big highlight in my calendar, especially when, as a Border TV reporter, I got to go and cover the event for Lookaround and I always did my utmost to ensure I was picked for the job, writes Farmer columnist Gilly Fraser.

When we arrived at the showground I would leave the cameraman and soundman to set up their gear and have the first coffee of the day and go off on a recce.

This was theoretically to find interesting people to interview and picturesque spots to place them in, but in reality was just an excuse for a wander, looking at the horses, chatting to chums who were there to compete and maybe even doing a quick bit of window shopping at the many massively tempting stalls. Really wasn’t like work at all.

However. There was one year when for two pins I would have happily swopped jobs with one of the other reporters. But the News Editor was having none of it.

‘You’re the only person who even remotely knows one end of a horse from the other, so it has to be you.’

I set off for Lowther that day in a distinct state of trepidation.

My fears had absolutely nothing to do with the Show, but a great deal to do with a heavily pregnant lady many miles away who was due to give birth at any moment. Her name was Sarah Ferguson and she was the Duchess of York.

So why should the imminence of her child’s birth matter to me in the slightest? Because we had been granted an interview with Prince Philip, who was competing in the carriage-driving at Lowther, and I had been told in no uncertain terms by the News Ed that if word of the birth came through while I was there, I had to ask the royal personage how he felt about being a Grandfather again.

To say I was dreading the prospect would be an understatement without equal. I think I’d rather have eaten my own feet. Without salt.

The Duke of Edinburgh was renowned for his inability to suffer fools gladly and under normal circumstances I quite admired him for that.

But in this particular circumstance, I knew was in danger of being the fool through no fault of my own, and I also knew he would positively despise the question and ergo the questioner.

Queens and Consorts may no longer have the power to dispatch hapless citizens to the Tower, but I had very real visions of being sent from the royal presence with a very large and buzzing flea in my ear, utterly trashed by the kind of withering look he seemed to reserve for poor deluded reporters who were rash enough to ask facile questions.

Thankfully, the Patron Saint of journalists must have been looking out for me, and made the Duchess wait for another day in which to bring forth the then newest member of the royal family.

I remain profoundly grateful for that fact especially since it meant I was able to keep all my questions equestrian, concentrating on the finer points of carriage driving, why he particularly enjoyed competing at Lowther, and his longstanding friendly rivalry with Cumbria’s own carriage-driving superstar George Bowman. He proved to be knowledgeable, funny, and astonishingly easy to talk to.

I can’t remember now how he fared at Lowther that year, but he was no mean operator with a team of horses or ponies.

In fact he had been one of the first to pioneer the activity as a competitive sport, largely because he had reluctantly given up Polo and was casting around for something else to do with horses.

He became a highly popular regular at Lowther, competing there every year bar one between 1973 and 2008, latterly driving teams of even though he came a proper cropper at one event in the mid 90’s when his carriage overturned on the cross-country course and he had to chase after the fleeing ponies on foot.

Countless tributes have been paid since Prince Philips’s death but his grand-daughter Lady Louise Windsor didn’t need words – she simply took his team of ponies out for a drive. The perfect farewell.