“WHEN PRINCESS Margarethe of Sweden officially opened Teesside airport yesterday the ceremony was brief, businesslike and completely lacking in ostentation – the way a sound commercial venture should start,” reported The Northern Echo on November 2, 1966.

Tuesday, therefore, will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of what is now Durham Tees Valley Aiport.

Alderman Jack Boothy, the Mayor of Middlesbrough, welcomed the Princess and said: “The River Tees has already been the means of establishing ties with Sweden over many years. I am confident the airport will serve to strengthen those ties.

“Today we are proclaiming to the world that a military airfield has been turned over to civilian purposes. This is a sign of the times. It is bringing Teesside into its proper place in the nation economy.”

The Echo report said: “With a smile and simple gesture, Princess Margarethe pulled the cord to unveil the table announcing that Teesside Airport had been opened on November 1, 1966.”

The councils of the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire had bought the airport from the military authorities in 1963 for £314,000, and had spent £195,000 equipping the airfield for civilian usage, £412,000 building the terminal and £200,000 developing St George’s Hotel, which also opened that day.

The terminal, as the princess would have seen, was designed to handle 350,000 passengers a year at a rate of 375-an-hour. In 2015, 140,902 passengers used the airport, flying to Schipol, Aberdeen and Jersey, although at its peak in 2006, it catered for 917,963.

The princess would also have seen that the terminal was already open – it had been rushed ready for the World Cup games that were played at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park in mid-July. In fact, the first guests at St George’s Hotel were the North Korean football team, who played all three of their group games at Ayresome Park, including their famous 1-0 victory over fancied Italy.

Quite why a Swedish princess was chosen to open a Tees Valley airport is unknown – in fact, Alderman Boothy’s tenuous welcoming remarks suggest he was struggling, as well.

The princess was 32, and, since her father had died in an aircrash, she was the elder sister of the heir to the Swedish throne. However, in 1964 she had married a common British businessman, John Ambler, which had caused her to be relieved of her “Royal Highness” title, and a new titular hotch-potch had been made for her: “Princess Margarethe, Mrs Ambler”.

The Swedish princess lived in Oxfordshire – but it was she who opened the airport.

If today's pictures, which are all from The Northern Echo's archive, trigger any memories, or you have any thoughts to add, or you can explain the princess' presence, please email chris.lloyd@nne.co.uk