Duke of Cambridge marks Milton Keynes' 50th anniversary

media captionHRH Prince William chats to people in Milton Keynes

The Duke of Cambridge has visited Milton Keynes as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Prince William met residents and unveiled a new pillar celebrating the founders of the "new city", which was built to address London's housing shortage after World War Two.

In a short speech to well-wishers, the duke praised the Buckinghamshire town for its vision.

He said the optimism over its future made Milton Keynes "unique".

"There is a very strong sense of community and belonging in Milton Keynes - a busy cultural, heritage and arts centre and a focus on greenery and sustainability," he said.

During his visit the duke viewed the MK Rose - a public open air circle for remembrance, with pillars celebrating significant events.

image copyrightPA
image captionThe duke unveiled the Founders Pillar at the MK Rose, where 106 granite pillars of varying heights commemorate events of local, national and international significance

This year residents have been marking the Act of Parliament that led to the creation of the town 50 miles (81km) north of London.

On 23 January 1967, the then housing minister Anthony Greenwood granted permission to transform farmland and undeveloped villages into a town - often dubbed the "new town" or "new city" - to house 250,000 people.

It was the third and final phase of the government's plans to relocate people following World War Two.

Five decades later, Milton Keynes, famous for its concrete cows and abundance of roundabouts, is home to more than 10,000 businesses and is used as a model for cities around the world.

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image captionDuring his speech, Prince William said he had "no doubt" Milton Keynes would continue to thrive over the next 50 years and beyond

In 2007, the Queen visited Milton Keynes to mark its 40th anniversary. She previously toured the town in 1979.

During the latest royal visit, Prince William met local craftsmen, including vellum makers who supply the parchment for royal documents.

image copyrightPA
image captionThe duke was presented with a gift from eight-year-old Tegan during his visit

He gave a diplomatic laugh when told how the vellum could be put to use if his brother, Prince Harry, married girlfriend Meghan Markle.

The pair recently made their first official public appearance at the Invictus Games in Toronto.

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