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CoronavirusThe Cambridges

Royal Train Tour Recap: Day One

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began their whistle-stop tour of the United Kingdom on Monday, with stops in Scotland and England as they travelled across the country to thank frontline and key workers who have served their communities throughout the pandemic.

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Beginning in Edinburgh, William and Kate started their day with a visit to Scottish Air Ambulance workers, as representatives of the NHS, to thank them for their hard work. The news came as the royal couple were announced as joint patrons of NHS Charities Together, a funding appeal organisation that works to provide “extra funding and additional services above and beyond NHS core funds, supporting hospitals, community and mental health services and ambulance services.”

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William and Kate met with staff members at their service centre just outside Edinburgh and heard how the pandemic has affected them firsthand. A paramedic, Alistair Matson, told reporters afterwards about his conversation with William, about his father’s illness and death.

“It was very emotional talking to the Prince about losing my father. He was very anxious to hear how we managed to cope with the mental strains of our job.

“I was helped considerably by the great sense of camaraderie at my work. There was never any rush to come back and they have been like another family to me. It was really heartening to see the royal couple here today acknowledging what we do and their thanks means a lot to us.”

Another paramedic, John Kane, said that the Duke, “was particularly interested in how we manage the mental wellbeing of our own staff.”

The royal couple then travelled to Brentwood-upon-Tweed to visit students and teachers at the Holy Trinity Church of England First School. William and Kate decided to visit the school to thank teachers who have been vital at continuing education through the challenges of lockdowns.

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During their visit to the school, the Duke and Duchess also met three reindeers, Chaz, Crackers, and Echols, as part of the school’s festive plans.

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The school wrote on its Facebook page, “Please believe your children when they tell you that they met Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge today. For once, we have not encouraged them to let their imaginations run wild. The royal couple chose to visit us as part of their tour of the UK to thank keyworkers.”

The school posted again afterwards, “It has been an amazing experience for our school and our fantastic children have had a wonderful day, that has created lifelong memories.

“It is not everyday you get the chance to meet Royalty and the gift of a reindeer visit made everything even more exciting!  Thank you to all at Kensington Palace and the Duchess of Northumberland [who also paid a visit to the school].”

The school’s headmaster, Nicholas Shaw, told reporters afterwards, “It has been fantastic and the children loved it. We feel honoured to have been chosen and appreciate they are taking the time to think about teachers and the work that has been going on in schools.

“It has been a challenge during lockdown, a lot of new skills have been learned. We stayed open throughout for children of key workers and vulnerable children.”

Next, the Cambridges travelled to the Batley Community Centre in West Yorkshire, to meet with volunteers who have been helping the elderly in the community throughout the pandemic. This included Kate’s first face-to-face meeting with Len Gardner, the elderly carer she’d telephoned through the Royal Voluntary Service earlier in lockdowns.

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Finally, the Royal Train stopped in Manchester for a visit to Fareshare, a food waste charity that donates surplus food to vulnerable people across the UK, and thank the volunteers there who have been working hard during the pandemic.

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“The very touching visit from The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge not only helps to motivate all of us at Fareshare to continue to tackle the issues head on, but it helps to continue to shine a light on the lack of access to healthy food faced by many millions of our citizens in this country…” said Lindsay Boswell, Fareshare’s Chief Executive.

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William gave a short speech, saying, “Catherine and I felt it was extremely important to visit just some of the heroes that have emerged this year to thank you for all that you have done.”

He added, “You are the people that have not only kept our country going but have also helped warm all our hearts by showing us the very best of human nature.”

The royal couple then took in a performance by Wayne Ellington and Manchester Inspirational Voices, which was hosted by Band on the Wall, an independent music venue that has received government support during the pandemic.

The Royal Train Tour concludes tomorrow, with stops planned in Wales.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.