ONLY in Blackpool could a prince come face to face with SpongeBob SquarePants!
The cartoon favourite was on hand to welcome Prince Edward to the resort as part of a visit to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Earl of Wessex started his trip at the Pleasure Beach before taking a majestic ride along the Promenade in one of Blackpool’s new Bombardier trams.
And he quipped “I think my costume is better!” as he lined up alongside SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer at Nickelodeon Land at the Pleasure Beach to unveil a commemorative plaque.
Tram driver Adele Taylor took control of the ‘royal’ tram as the prince hopped on board to make the journey down to his next stop at Festival House. Riding alongside her in the driver’s cab, he took in all the sights.
Adele, who has worked for Blackpool Transport for 27 years, said afterwards: “The Prince was very interested in the new trams and was asking me questions about what they were like to drive.
“I love the new trams so I was very proud to be able to show one off to him.
“He was also very interested to hear about all the things which have been happening as part of the regeneration of Blackpool. He looked genuinely pleased to be here and was very positive.”
The Prince disembarked for a quick look at the Comedy Carpet on the Festival Headland before walking to Festival House where a crowd of well-wishers had gathered to greet him.
They included flag-waving dancers from Phil Winston’s Theatre Works, who the royal visitor stopped to chat to.
He then cut the ribbon to officially mark the opening of the Jubilee Tourist Information Centre, within Festival House, before chatting to staff and having a tour of the wedding chapel.
Blackpool Council’s assistant chief executive Alan Cavill said the centre had been named in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Hearing how the centre had only just opened, Prince Edward said: “So you have just about unpacked!”
Tourist information advisor Sandy Griffiths said: “He was admiring the views and it was nice he had time to talk to all of us. It has been a real buzz having him visit and I think it is a great honour for the town. We’re really looking forward to the Jubilee year and getting lots of visitors to Blackpool.”
Colleague Emma Chilton added: “It was really exciting to meet him. He asked us how long we had worked here.”
The Prince was also introduced to staff from the wedding chapel, asking about the first ceremony which was held at the new venue, and was shown the spectacular views across the Irish Sea and to North Pier.