PRINCE Charles has given Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant his royal seal of approval.

HRH The Prince of Wales met workers and representatives of the UK motor industry on Thursday and was given a sneak preview of the new Astra, which will be launched later this year.

The plant’s general manager, Tom Schmidt, said he was sure parent company General Motors’ senior management in the USA would take notice of the support that the Royal visit represented.

The North Road site is among those hit by falling car sales as the worldwide recession bites, but employees said the Prince’s visit was a “morale boost”.

He was taken on a tour of the production line, where he met workers and saw the current Astra being constructed.

The visit also allowed the Prince to meet representatives from the car industry, along with suppliers, and take part in a discussion of the issues facing manufacturers while the economy is in trouble.

Afterwards, Mr Schmidt said the Prince would have left believing the Ellesmere Port plant “has a strategy and a future”, despite the current economic downturn.

He said: “His Royal Highness was absolutely brilliant in the comments he made to the people on the shop floor.

“He was really appreciative of the work these people have done here.”

Asked if the visit would have any effect on Vauxhall’s parent company, Mr Schmidt said he believed it would.

He said: “It means a lot, not only locally but to our parent company, General Motors.

“It also gave us the opportunity to expose his Royal Highness to the successes which have gone on here over the last few years.”

Borough MP Andrew Miller said: “The visit was very successful and I think it will not only boost morale within the site, it will perhaps scotch some of the less informed stories doing the rounds about the future of the site.

“During our discussions His Royal Highness asked a number of extremely well informed questions about the company and the wider automotive industry.”

Kevin Jackson, who has worked at the plant for 24 years, said: “He could see I was nervous, but he put me at ease and asked about my family and I told him about my children and grandkids.”