The Duke of York said he is "saddened" to see the damage caused to the bridge at Tadcaster by the post-Christmas floods and has encountered "shock and devastation" from people in sodden communities across Yorkshire.
Andrew said he had found that "the community has pulled together" as he toured flood-hit areas of the county.
In Tadcaster, the duke stood by the River Wharfe as he surveyed the remnants of the town's bridge which dramatically collapsed on December 29.
Asked for his reaction, he said: "Saddened to see such a wonderful old bridge in a damaged state.
"But, what encourages me is that there is a plan - first of all for a footbridge, then to support the structure and then to get on and recover the stonework that's underneath and get back to building it.
"But it's going to take some time."
Wearing black trainers with his dark suit, Andrew was taken through the plans for rebuilding the 18th century listed structure by county council senior engineer Andrew Wood.
The council has said it will take up to a year and £3 million to do the work, leaving residents with a half-hour drive from one side of the town to the other.
Asked about what he found in his tour of Yorkshire so far, he said: "Shock and devastation."
He said: "It's been a very difficult time but I get a sense, talking to people both here and in Leeds, that the community has pulled together in a way that is really encouraging.
"The question is whether or not this is a regular occurrence or whether this is a one-off. And nobody can answer that question.
"But it's a fact that the community has pulled together."
Andrew said it had been "a very interesting lesson to me in what the dynamics are in a flood".
The royal visitor toured the town's church, which was flooded with knee-deep water, and talked to a number of shopkeepers whose businesses were inundated last week.
His tour of Yorkshire was hampered earlier in the day when a planned start in Todmorden was scuppered by poor weather preventing his helicopter from landing.
But Andrew said he was planning to travel to the West Yorkshire town later in the day, saying he had been told they were "particularly frazzled" there by the flooding.
He has also visited Leeds and is due to travel to York.