PRINCE Charles drove an electric car off the production line at the MINI Plant Oxford as it celebrates 20 years of modern MINI production.

After his test drive, His Royal Highness described the MINI Electric as ‘silent but deadly’ and praised the factory for its sustainability efforts.

In the context of a greener future, the Prince also made reference to his new born granddaughter, Lilibet.

The royal tour had earlier taken in a visit to Somerville College and Oxford Botanic Garden, where the environment was at the forefront of the conversation.

After speaking to students, the Prince made his way to the MINI Plant, meeting young apprentices and fourth generation plant workers, and toured the factory floor.

Addressing the workers, he said: “MINI Cowley for nearly a century has been a byword for British industry, and of course a hugely important part of life in this great city.

“At least my test drive a moment ago was on the whole without incident and only went to prove that the new MINI is ‘silent, but deadly’.

“To paraphrase the immortal words of Sir Michael Caine – ‘at least I didn’t blow the bloody doors off’.”

Turning to the environment, the Prince added: “For a large part of my life, I have been trying to draw attention for the need to operate as sustainably as possible so it really is very encouraging to see the breath of the sustainability measures that are being implemented across the company.

“The development of technology like electric vehicles is vital for maintaining the health of our world for future generations, something I am only too aware of today, having recently become a grandfather for the fifth time.

“We will clearly need every ounce of the enterprise, ingenuity and dedication which has made this plant and its workforce and its products world famous, as we build a much more durable, circular economy for the future of our communities and our planet.”

After his address to staff, the Prince then unveiled a plaque to commemorate the visit.

Before then, he had met apprentices using virtual reality technology as part of their training and viewed a new electric battery being inserted into a MINI Electric.

One of the apprentices he met was 18-year-old Lucy Lovette.

She said: “I showed the Prince how augmented welding works and how it prepares you for the actual welding.

“He was quite impressed and asked lots of questions about how things work and how it would be beneficial for us.”

As part of his whistle stop tour of Oxford, His Royal Highness chatted to students at the former college of Margaret Thatcher, and was shown a photograph of a previous royal visit by his great-grandmother, Queen Mary.

The first stop of the day was Somerville College, which was celebrating both its 140th anniversary and marking 100 years of Oxford degrees for women.

Meanwhile, at the Oxford Botanic Garden, the Prince was able to take part in a special celebration of 400 years of the garden.

After landing at Somerville, His Royal Highness was guided to the oldest part of the college, to view an exhibition celebrating the centenary of women being awarded Oxford degrees.

He spoke to social historian Jane Robinson and the college’s librarian Anne Manuel, who presented the Prince with objects from the college archive, including a photograph of Queen Mary visiting in 1921.

He then met scholars from the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, along with its research director, associate professor Radhika Khosla.

They discussed sustainable development in India, including the use of reforestation projects to mitigate climate change.

The college visit was concluded with the planting of a tree in the college’s Darbishire Quadrangle.

After planting the tree, he raised his shovel in the air to great applause by the students gathered, and those watching from their accommodation.

Fabio Rossi, the college president, said it was ‘an honour’ to meet the Prince and for him to show an interest in the sustainability work being done at the college.

College vice president Zuleika Frost added: “We knew quite a bit in advance but it was still quite surreal to actually meet him.

“It was good for him to visit and mark the 100-year anniversary, that was very important for us as students.”

The Prince then whizzed off to the Botanic Garden, the UK’s oldest botanic garden, where he has been patron since 1991.

As he did at Somerville, His Royal Highness planted a tree, this time one grown from the seed of the original black pine that grew in the garden from the 1830s until 2014.