The Princess Royal has praised the "unique quality and community values" of an island fabric as she opened an extension to a Hebridean tweed mill.

Anne expressed hope many of the people who bought products made from Harris Tweed were aware of the skills that go into its production, including home weavers on whom the industry depends.

After touring Harris Tweed Hebrides' mill on the Isle of Lewis in her role as president of the UK Fashion and Textiles Association, the princess described the £2.4 million blending and dyehouse facilities as "an investment for the next generation".

The company was formed in 2007 when there were concerns about the future of the traditional weaving industry on the islands.

It has worked to establish the fabric as high fashion product and about two-thirds of the cloth is sent overseas.

Company bosses say the additional space at the Shawbost site will create a better working environment for the mill's 80 employees.

Chairman Brian Wilson said the industry depended on "unique protection and a unique structure".

In return, he said its owners had an obligation to the islands to pass it on in robust health, which the latest investment would help to ensure.

Chief executive Ian Angus MacKenzie said: "This is a major investment in the future of the industry and a statement of confidence on the part of our company.

"A decade ago, Shawbost mill was closed and derelict.

"We are very proud of what has been achieved since then and are confident that Harris Tweed can continue to be a major force within the Hebridean economy for many years to come".

Harris Tweed Hebrides exports to more than 50 countries across the world, with its main markets in Japan, Germany and the US, followed by Italy, France and Korea.