PRINCE Harry has recorded a special message to mark the 75th anniversary of his childhood favourite programme Thomas the Tank Engine.
The Duke of Sussex, 35, spoke of his “fond memories” watching the show in an introduction to a special episode starring the Queen and a young Prince Charles.
The celebratory episode, Thomas & Friends: The Royal Engine, will see Thomas travel to London for the first time on a mission to take Fat Controller Sir Topham Hatt to Buckingham Palace to receive an honour.
In his on-camera introduction – which was recorded in January before he moved to North America – Prince Harry reads from a book about Thomas while sitting in an armchair.
He said: “Thomas the Tank Engine has been a comforting, familiar face to so many families over the last 75 years – entertaining, educating and inspiring children on important issues through exciting stories and characters.
“I certainly have fond memories of growing up with Thomas & Friends and being transported to new places through his adventures.
“I am very proud to have been asked to take part in this special episode. I wish Thomas & Friends a very happy anniversary.”
Prince Harry was a huge fan of the series growing up, and even carried a Thomas the Tank Engine bag on his first day at nursery in September 1987.
This special tribute is one of Prince Harry’s first projects to be released since he stepped down as a senior royal, with the split becoming official in March.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently in isolation in LA with their baby Archie.
In the 22-minute special episode, Sir Topham Hatt has been invited to London by the Queen to receive an award for distinguished service to the railway, and a young Charles has asked that Thomas be the engine to bring him.
Thomas gets lost along the way and meets the royal train, called the Duchess of Loughborough, voiced by Rosamund Pike.
The Gone Girl star said: “It is an absolute honour to have the chance to appear in the show.
“I take it as a big responsibility to play Duchess who is a lovely, warm, bubbly sort of effervescent engine that I am incredibly drawn to because she is very anxious to get things right.”
Chuck Scothon, of toy company Mattel, added: “Since the beginning, Thomas & Friends has celebrated friendship and teamwork through storytelling which has cultivated fan love across generations.
“In this milestone 75th year, we are releasing more storytelling content than ever before to engage the next generation of fans.
“While families are spending more time at home, we are able to offer new content to enjoy together across videos, books, apps and through music and podcasts and are thrilled Harry, The Duke of Sussex is introducing this special.”
The special episode will be on Milkshake! on Channel 5 at 9.05am on May 2 and will stream on Netflix in the US on May 1.
The Railway Series was created by British clergyman the Rev Wilbert Awdry 75 years ago as a bedtime storybook for his young son, Christopher, during a bout of the measles.
Popular character Thomas doesn’t appear in the debut story, but he got his own illustrated book in 1946 – and swiftly became the main favourite.
Thomas and Friends is now owned by Mattel and airs in over 160 countries worldwide.
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