Hundreds Brave Rain For Lancashire Royal Visit

Prince William and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton have visited east Lancashire for their last official engagement together before the royal wedding later this month.

Union and St George Cross flags flew outside many shops and pubs in the east Lancashire town of Darwen to greet the couple.

William and Kate arrived at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy on the first leg of their day-long visit to the area as hundreds of well-wishers lined outside in the heavy rain.

When William and Kate arrived they were cheered by those nearby and the prince led the way, waving to the well-wishers as he headed to the officials.

Kate was a few paces behind him sheltering under a huge black umbrella that shielded her from the downpour.

Miss Middleton was dressed in a smart navy blue jacket and skirt and her hair was styled half up and half down.

They both found a moment to wave to the locals who responded with a cheer, then the engagement began as they greeted the senior officials from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

Handshakes and smiles were exchanged with the small group and Miss Middleton shared a laugh with one before they headed inside the building and out of the rain.

William will officially open the academy where he will also launch an award scheme and later observe a sports display in the park with his fiancee.

At the academy in the heart of the town, the couple were welcomed by the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Sheila Williams, the chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Graham Burgess, and Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry.

A tour of the academy followed to highlight its focus on entrepreneurial skills which are embedded in its curriculum.

William will launch the SkillForce Prince's Award and give a short address on the scheme and the work of the academy to students, parents, governors and staff.

SkillForce is an education charity which has William as its patron and from summer 2012 it will present the new honour to teenagers who show significant character or make a major contribution to their community.

Later, William and Miss Middleton will visit Witton Country Park as part of the Prince's role as patron of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge.