A Northumberland mill has maintained an 87-year-old tradition by sending a baby rug to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to celebrate the anticipated arrival of their first-born child.
Otterburn Mill was asked by Buckingham Palace officials in 1926 to make a bespoke pram rug for Princess Elizabeth and the mill was keen to continue the tradition with the impending Royal birth.
It all began when Queen Alexandra, the current Queen’s great-grandmother, was presented with a hand spun travelling rug from Otterburn Mill while on a visit to Alnwick Castle.
She was said to be delighted with the travel rug and the gift marked the beginning of a royal love affair with Otterburn tweeds and rugs.
Royalty went on to use the tweeds for their hunting, shooting and fishing clothing. Euan Pringle, owner of Otterburn Mill, expressed his delight at keeping the royal ritual alive.
He said: “We are delighted to carry on a tradition that started with a Royal visit to Northumberland so many years ago, and hope it continues with the new generation – we wish them all the best with their new arrival.
“I can only be proud that a Northumberland company can keep up with the tough times we are all facing. Of course it’s a great honour to be able to send another one of our products down to the Royal couple – it makes me very proud.
“When you have the chance to maintain not just your own traditions, but a British tradition it can only be a good thing.
“We sell our products all over the world and many people have got in touch to say they would like a rug creating for their first child, their grandchild, or even great-grandchild and it is something they have always grown up with.
“So, not only is it a great privilege to be able to give a new rug to the Royal family, but it is a great privilege to be a part of so many lives.
“People keep asking if I know whether the baby will be a boy or a girl, but unfortunately I am as much in the dark as everybody else, and the rug is still being made.”
The Mill, which is believed to date back as far as the 1400s, moved to exploit the widespread availability of local wool during the Industrial Revolution and the Otterburn name has been synonymous with luxury woven goods ever since.
Following the Royal request for the custom baby rug in 1926, 20 were made because it was impossible to make just one.
It was then that Mr Fenwick of department store Fenwick of Newcastle saw the rugs and asked to sell them.
He sold out in two weeks prompting a reorder and the beginnings of the commercial success of the Otterburn Baby Rug.