A THEATRE in York welcomed a royal visitor today.

Princess Beatrice of York attended York Theatre Royal to learn more about the venue, and its upcoming redevelopment.

The princess has been a patron of the theatre since June 2013, and visited the York Mystery Plays costume workshops in 2012, but this was her first visit to the theatre as patron.

During her visit, she met York's civic party, members of staff and the cast of this year's pantomime, Old Mother Goose, and found out more about the changes to the venue, which will be redeveloped over the next year.

Panto star Berwick Kaler even made a special effort and dressed as Beatrice's ancestor, Queen Victoria, to present her with a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale and a Wagon Wheel.

Berwick said: "Panto just took a step up the ladder with her visit."

Lord Mayor of York Councillor Ian Gillies was among the group who met the princess beforehand, and said she was interested in York's pantomime tradition.

He said: "She was saying how exciting it wa for her to come to the theatre for the first time as patron.

"I asked if she would be coming back to watch the panto, and she said she would love to, and how fantastic a tradition it is."

Tina Wright MBE, board trustee at the theatre, said: "We were talking about the panto and she was sitting in on the technical rehearsal, having it all to herself.

"I knew Berwick would rise to the occasion, as he always does, and I bet he's been sitting somewhere all day working out his gags and practising his courtsey."

Jane Lady Gibson, chair of Visit York, said: "It's always delightful to meet Princess Beatrice.

"It's important we have a princess of York, it gives the city significance with this royal connection. She's a very, very informed young woman who is extremely knowledgeable and interested in what we're doing here in York. She's interested and interesting and a royal asset to us and we are thrilled here at York Theatre Royal that she's a patron."