IT’S not every day the king of an African country pays visit to a pub in East Lancashire.

However regulars at the Bay Horse Inn in Barrow were pleasantly surprised when the King Letsie III walked in to have a pint.

The ruler of the Kingdom of Lesotho, which is landlocked on the eastern side of South Africa, spent an hour in the Whalley Road pub after meeting up with a college friend, Andrew Forsythe, who lives in Whalley.

Mr Forsythe said the pair studied at Ampleforth College, North Yorkshire, before King Letsie III went on to study law at the National University of Lesotho.

Mr Forsythe said the pub has a international Lesotho football shirt framed in the pub, signed by the king, 55, after he persuaded him to send one over a couple of years ago.

He said: “The king had been over in Europe and had previously been in Rome before coming to the UK.

“We arranged to come up and visit and I decided to take him to the pub. He liked it and had a chat with the regulars for about an hour.

“It’s not every day you get royalty walking into your pub.

“I think the security guards and blacked-out car which pulled up outside would have made their heads turn.”

Lesotho was previously the British Crown colony of Basutoland, but it declared independence from the United Kingdom in October 1966.

It has a population of around 2.2 million, just shy of the number of people in Greater Manchester.

King Letsie III became ruler in February 1996 and his official coronation followed in October 1997.

King Letsie married in 2000 to Karabo Motšoeneng, with whom he has two daughters and one son.

Sue Driver, who runs the pub with her son, Adam, said: “It was nice to have the King of Lesotho at the pub.

“It was an informal visit but he had a pint of lager and sat with a few of the regulars.

“He liked the signed Lesotho football shirt we have up on the wall.”