The Countess of Wessex braved the cold weather to visit an army base in Staffordshire before officially opening West Bromwich’s £77 million college.
Her fist stop was Whittington Barracks near Lichfield. The Countess is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC).
Wearing a black and fawn fitted jacket with the Corps’ cap badge as a brooch, Sophie, wife of Prince Edward, attended the annual Corps Day Service at The Garrison Church of Saint George on the site.
About 200 medics, nurses and soldiers attended the service, which was held for the first time at the Barracks. The site is undergoing a £144m transformation to become the Defence Medical Services.
It will house 1,400 members of staff, and 8,500 medical trainees from the Army, Navy and RAF will be taught there each year when it opens next March.
The Countess then visited the new Sandwell College building to give it the royal seal of approval.
She was given a guided tour, unveiled a commemorative plaque and met students from the fashion, photography, automotive and engineering departments.
Her visit came a week after Edward launched the new Ace Academy in Alexandra Road, Tipton, formerly the Alexandra College of Business and Enterprise.
During yesterday’s tour of the Spon Lane college, lecturers and students from the fashion department were given the opportunity to show the Countess sketches, virtual catwalk technology and explain how they have developed their design ideas, while photography students then led a fashion shoot.