Prince Charles helped Land Rover workers celebrate the firm's 60th anniversary today and praised the company for its work to combat climate change.

During a two-hour visit to Land Rover's plant at Lode Lane, in Solihull, the prince also took delivery of a vehicle for use on an Ayrshire estate he helped to save for the nation.

The £25,000 Land Rover County Station Wagon, given to honour Charles' own 60th birthday in November, will be used on the Dumfries House estate, which was bought last year by a consortium led by the prince.

After being given a tour of the area of the factory where the lower and upper sections of cars are "married" together by ten bolts, Charles praised Land Rover for leading the way in many fields.

Addressing around 100 workers as the assembly line at the plant continued to roll, Prince Charles said they should be proud that their product was seen all across the globe.

Recalling how he had recently travelled in a Land Rover in Uganda, the royal visitor said: "Your success is seen everywhere. Going round the factory today, the quality is only too clear.

"I just wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate all the hard-working workforce, who I know put so much skill and dedication into producing this great British product."

Land Rover had embraced innovative engineering in order to tackle climate change, the prince said, adding: "With programmes such as your CO2 offsetting scheme... you really are showing the sort of commitment and real example that is essential to reduce the carbon footprint of global industry and therefore improve sustainability."

Workers who chatted with the prince said they were impressed by his interest in each section of the assembly line and his willingness to stop and chat.

Electrician Richard Stiles, 46, said he felt privileged to have met the prince.

"It was a bit nerve-wracking, but he is a really nice guy," the father-of-three told reporters. "He asked how long I had worked here and about my family as well. We all do the same job here and it was just lucky that it fell to me."

Team leader Gary Adney, 40, was asked to show the prince a chassis being assembled for the Russian market.

"Sixty years is a great landmark for Land Rover and hopefully we can do another 60 years," Mr Adney said. "We are being taken over shortly and hopefully there's a good future for us."

Earlier, his Royal Highness took time to cut into a birthday cake baked in the shape of the first ever Land Rover.

Clearly impressed with the detail of the sponge Series 1 model, which even boasted mud-coloured icing on its wheels, the Prince told onlookers that it would be a shame to ruin the "vehicle" by slicing into it.

The cake, which the prince then joked that he had "wrecked", was later donated to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

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