The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have carried out holiday events at Kensington Palace and RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus over two days, helping spread cheer to families of servicemembers currently serving overseas.
On Tuesday, William and Kate hosted a Christmas party at the Orangery at Kensington Palace for the families and children of those serving from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham in Cyprus.
The party was supported by the Royal British Legion “in recognition of the unique contribution and sacrifices serving personnel and their families making year-round, and especially when they are separated during the festive period,” per Kensington Palace.
William and Kate met with those family members and engaged in activities like stocking decorating, cracker making, snow globe decorating and party kits. The families were also encouraged to take photos and write letters for their loved ones that William and Kate ended up delivering the following day.
At the Christmas party, Kate gave a speech talking about her experience as the wife of a servicemember, saying that, “As someone whose husband has served, I know how hard it feels when a loved one leaves home to do the job they’ve trained for. When William served in the Falklands or went search and rescue, I remember how it felt.”
She continued, “But I can’t imagine how it feels when your loved ones are away on active service over Christmas or at those special family moments…The absence of people you love must be especially hard at this time of year. We should never forget our military families and all the service you do for us.”
On Wednesday, when William and Kate arrived at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, they met with servicemembers and toured the military base.
William gave a speech to the assembled soldiers, saying that, “You always put duty first and so do your families, some of whom we had a chance to meet yesterday at a party at Kensington Palace. We know this isn’t easy for you or for your wives, husbands, children and friends back in the UK.”
William continued, “All this work is done without fanfare. You don’t seek praise for your contribution. It’s not about credit or recognition – for you it’s just about service. As we approach Christmas, Catherine and I feel very strongly that praise for your work and recognition for your sacrifices is exactly what is due to you all. From my time in uniform, we both know a bit of what it feels like to balance your work commitments with your family life.”
Upon meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Squadron Leader Waghorn told the BBC that it was an honour to meet the royals and that, “It’s sad we won’t be home for Christmas, but to get that personal message from [our families] with the duke and duchess is lovely.”
William and Kate also joined families for afternoon tea and officially opened the Oasis Centre, which is used as a recreation area on base, during their visit.