Today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in Wales where they visited the Mumbles and Port Talbot to visit organisations and businesses at the heart of the local communities. Recently, we have been seeing the royal couple undertaking lots of engagements in Wales. I believe they are slowly but smartly getting ready for their future role.
Wales have played an important role in William and Catherine’s life. If you remember their first official engagement was also in Wales, where Prince William and the then Catherine Middleton launched a lifeboat in February 2011. Then they spend first couple of years in Anglesey of their married life.
The Cambridges at Mumbles pic.twitter.com/AIw53VD7MT
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) February 4, 2020
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at Mumbles.
William and Catherine first visited the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Mumble Lifeboat station, which is one of Wales’ busiest lifeboat stations. The Royal Family have long supported RNLI. The Queen has been Patron since 1952, the year of her Accession and The Duke of Kent has held the position of President since 1969.
Mumbles RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Tim Conway said, “It was an absolute privilege to welcome The Duke and Duchess to The Mumbles RNLI Lifeboat Station. We were able to show them the roles of all our volunteers who all make a valuable contribution to saving lives at sea. I’m sure a highlight of the visit for them was seeing our all-weather lifeboat launch down the slipway. It has been a fantastic morning and something which will stay with us all for a very long time.”
The Duke and Duchess boarded the lifeboat and spoke to crewmembers about day-to-day life as part of a team which provides 24-hour rescue services to those facing difficulties at sea. Lifeboat operations in The Mumbles have been looked after by the RNLI since 1863 and the service frequently helps the greatest number of people for a single station in Wales.
Paul O’Dwyer was saved by the RNLI after his boat lost power out at sea. The Duke and Duchess presented volunteer James Bolter with a ’20 Years of Service’ award. From Hello!, “Spotting his Royal Engineers regimental tie, William joked: “That tie has got to say something. Stick to the land, Paul!” Paul, 41, from Port Talbot, said: “These guys [the RNLI] are super busy. We take it for granted sometimes in this country. There is so much help there at the drop of a hat. It’s amazing.”
The Royal Couple met volunteers before watching the Mumbles Lifeboat launch as part of a training exercise. Mental Health was a primary topic of discussion during the visit. From Hello’s report,
“How often do you talk about mental health?” Prince William asked. “It’s attritional, I think and it can be difficult [to see things] especially with kids. Everyone has a chink in their armour.” William raised the issue after they were welcomed to the Lifeboat Station by Lord-Lieutenant Byron Lewis, Commander Tim Conway, Operations Manager and Gerry Coad, Chairman of the Mumbles Lifeboat Management Group.
As they stood on board the all-weather Tamar class lifeboat, William was keen to hear about the range of incidents the crew are called out to and whether they had other jobs. “Are you all full-time?” he asked. “It’s a great thing to do. It’s rewarding, it’s challenging, it ticks lots of boxes. Laughing with one of the crews over how it impacts family life, he held an imaginary phone to his ear, pretending to take a call saying, ‘I’ve got to go’ I bet your other half isn’t pleased.”
William, a former RAF Search and Rescue and air ambulance pilot, was keen to hear how the crew works with the coastguard to find people. “It can be a lovely, beautiful day, but in the water, it can be very different,” he said. “When you are looking for a head above water and the heat goes, you are using your eyes.” The Duke then presented a long-service award to crew member James Bolter, who has been a member of the volunteer crew for over 20 years.”
Before leaving, the couple signed the visitor’s book. Continuing from Hello!,
After signing the visitors’ book, they chatted to supporters of the charity about their fundraising activities. Barbara Richards from the Mumbles Ladies Lifeboat Guild told William: “A lot of people think we are funded by the government. Yes it was the same with the air ambulance as well,” he replied, then joked: “Have you thought about doing a parachute jump?” To laughter, he added: “I will sponsor you a lot for that. As a pilot, I find it very hard jumping out of a very good aircraft.” “Barbara and I are going parachuting together!” he told the Duchess.
At the pier, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet and greet the 100s of members of the public gathered outside to see them. Just outside the pier, Duchess immediately spotted 90-year-old Harvey Bentley, from Swansea, who was in a wheelchair pushed by his son-in-law Mike Sutton-Smith.
And another lovely pic from @mikesuttonsmith – Kate got a kiss on the hand from Harvey! pic.twitter.com/LXWb7Mxvya
— Emily Nash (@emynash) February 4, 2020
Crouching down to chat to him, she said: “I hope you’re keeping warm enough. You’ve wrapped up well? It’s that chilly wind. Thank you for coming to say hello to us. Very nice to meet you. I’ll get William to come and say hello.” And William did come to say hello.
The royal couple also met with the kids from Oystermouth Primary School who were gathered there to welcome them.
Talking to small kids out there, Duchess said that Princess Charlotte will love the daffodil bookmarks the children had made for her. Deputy head Simon Lloyd-Jones said: “It was one of those experiences they are never going to get again. William was asking if there were any other Aston Villa fans whilst Kate was asking how old they all were and said her daughter would love the daffodil bookmarks the children had made and given her.”
A video of the walkabout.
Then it was time for some sweets. William and Catherine visited Jose Ice Cream in Wales. The family-run business has been serving gelato to local resident’s since Joe Cascarini arrived from Italy in the early 1900s.
There William and Catherine met with the staff and families and tasted some Italian ice cream. Duke of Cambridge went for a vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles, met owners Dominic and Adrian Hughes and revealed has a sweet tooth. Dailymail reported, ‘I am a chocolate man,’ he said as he walked in. I bet it’s packed in here in the summer. So what’s so special about Joe’s ice-cream? Magic ingredients.’
Duchess of Cambridge spend time with kids over there and talked to local families about The Royal Foundation’s 5 Big Questions survey which asks UK parents, carers and early years professionals for their views on raising the next generation of children under 5.
The couple tasting ice-cream.
While Duchess was inside the Ice-Cream Parlour someone was waiting for her outside – Denise Evans-Alford and Kevin Alford, old teachers from St. Andrews St Andrew’s School.
Catherine attended St Andrew’s independent prep school in Pangbourne, Berkshire along with her sister Pippa and brother James, until she was 13. Kevin taught her French and German, while Denise was Catherine’s netball coach. During her 2012 visit to the Prep-School to open a new hockey pitch, she described her time at St Andrew’s as some of the ‘happiest years of my life.’
The duchess exclaimed ‘it’s such a small world’ after seeing her old teachers outside the ice cream parlour.
Mr Allford, who remembers the Duchess of Cambridge as part of a ‘wonderful class of girls’, said: It was wonderful she gave us so much time. She said it’s such a small world, and she hadn’t expected to see her ex-teachers in Swansea.
‘We saw her last when she and Pippa came back to school to visit James, she was 14. We haven’t seen her since then. Obviously we’ve been following her career. She was in a wonderful class of girls and they got on so well together.’
Mr Alford said he enjoyed teaching Kate and the other pupils in her class so much that he asked to do so for an extra year. Both teachers said how much Kate had liked her time at the prep school.
‘She loved it so much,’ said Mrs Evans-Alford, who taught PE. ‘We had such a fantastic time there. She was in my netball team and rounders team. She was wonderful. She hasn’t changed a bit at all, you can tell. Pippa and James were wonderful too.’
Duchess was thrilled by the reunion. She told the couple: ‘I want to instil in my children the life I had at St Andrew’s.’
The next stop of the visit was Tata Steel in Port Talbot, where The Duke and Duchess met with employees and their families at the UK’s largest steel plant, which has been operating on the site for over one hundred years. The couple donned the safety kit that included helmets, goggles and headphones.
The plant is a vital employer in the area, providing over 4,000 jobs to members of the local community. Their Royal Highnesses joined a discussion with company directors and trade unions before spending time with workers in the plant’s Hot Strip Mill and in its Training Academy.
Tata Steel made headlines in November last year when it announced it would cut up to 1,000 UK-based jobs as part of a 3,000-strong reduction across Europe. The factory creates a range of steel products that can be used in different industries, including construction, domestic appliances and heavy vehicles.
Despite having steelworks for about 100 years, Port Talbot has seen its share of economic difficulties in recent decades as the industry has contracted. The decimation of the coalfields in the South Wales valleys close by has added to the deprivation in the region. And the trip was very much in keeping with the couple’s ongoing mission to help with social cohesion in the wider U.K.
William and Catherine saw the furnaces of the Hot Strip Mill and received a briefing about the works involved.
Video of the visit.
Before leaving, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were presented with Three Welsh dragons for their kids.
Couple’s last engagement of the day was the Bulldogs Development Centre.
The Bulldogs is a partnership between Bulldogs Boxing & Community Activities and Port Talbot Amateur Boxing, which helps to support young people in the community who may have been affected by adverse childhood experiences and mental health issues, and gives them a sense of belonging through fitness and boxing.
William and Catherine’s visit to The Bulldogs coincides with Children’s Mental Health Week which takes place between 3rd-9th February 2020. The Duchess of Cambridge has written a message of support for the Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week,
For many children today, the world can feel a scary and daunting place. While we might not always feel brave inside, even the smallest act – such as sharing a worry or asking for help – can be incredibly courageous. Helping children to feel confident about seeking support can have a transformational impact on their lives.
Being able to try new things and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone are important skills that can build children’s resilience and self-esteem. Learning these skills early in life can give children tools to cope with future challenges they may face in adulthood.
I am therefore so pleased to once again support Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week, which is this year focused on bravery. Through all my interactions with the charity, I’m proud to have seen how its work is helping children, young people and adults to be more confident in looking after their mental health, but there is still much more to do. The first step is talking about it, and recently I’ve launched a UK-wide survey on the under-fives in an attempt to get people to do just that. Our long-term ambition is to bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come.
I’d love schools and families across the country to take part in the week to help children and young people to ‘find their brave’.
Set up by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, of which the Duchess of Cambridge is patron, the week shines a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
The Bulldogs’ work is focused around a programme which it uses to help young people achieve their goals and improve both their physical and mental health through five pillars: personal development; open-access; education, employment and training; fitness and boxing; and support services. Bulldogs Boxing has so far helped support over 1,500 young people.
Kate Middleton made such an impression on a little six-year-old at a boxing club in South Wales that the girl insisted on showing her around.
Little Brooke briefly took the place of the chosen chaperone — one of the coaches at the community club — to the delight of the royal mom.
Kate and Brooke first met at a team-building game called Gutterball where participants have to coordinate and work together to get a ball to move along a line of gutters and into a box.
But when that was over and Kate, and husband Prince William, moved on to the next part of their visit, Brooke dragged her willing charge off elsewhere. ‘She decided she wanted to be Their Royal Highnesses’ guide.
‘She took the duchess to see where she does coloring and pointed out the outside space we have. She did a great job at it,’ Samantha Fox, project manager at Bulldogs Boxing and Community Activities in Port Talbot, explains.
Duke and Duchess at Boxing club.
The Duke and Duchess joined children and young people participating in different fitness and teamwork activities, before meeting a group of volunteers who help deliver the programmes.
Coming to today’s sartorial details – The Duchess of Cambridge debuted a new look.
Catherine wore Hobbs London double-breasted Bianca Maxi Coat. Described as, “Put a military-inspired spin on your winter wardrobe. Crafted from a luxurious wool-rich fabric, Bianca is a timeless layer you’ll still be wearing years from now. Expertly tailored, it’s cut to a maxi silhouette and features burnished crested buttons and shoulder epaulettes. Slip it over everything from workwear to off-duty outfits. Fully lined” the £349 navy coat is currently on sale for £259.
Underneath the coat, Duchess of Cambridge wore a red Zara dress. Thanks to HeavenQRF for the id. The dress is an old-style but pretty similar to this red puffy sleeves dress shown here from the Spanish label.
Another new element of the look is Beulah London Red Ecru Heart Scarf. The $323 scarf is described as, “The Shibani scarf is a clever way to work our recognisable print into your wardrobe. An instant outfit transformer, wear this vibrant piece against a monochrome look or create a stylish clash and team it with a patterned sweater. The Shibani Scarf is one of our most loved, bestselling pieces.” It is currently available on Beulah London and Shoptiques. The scarf is also available in pink, Fuchsia and Lemon shades.
Duchess paired up the outfit with her Stuart Weitzman Half N Half boots that she first wore during a visit to Sportsaid in November 2014.
For the visit, Catherine brought back her Asprey London Oak Leaf Small Hoop Earrings that were debuted at Wimbledon Men’s Finale in July 2018.
The Duchess of Cambridge was carrying her Mulberry Ruby Red Croc Darley Bag first seen in July 2019 at polo match where Prince Louis made her polo debut.
Her Daniella Draper Personalised Gold Midnight Moon Necklace finished the look.
Next, we will the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on February 11 when the couple will join the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for joint engagement. This is a Children’s Mental Health week so I am not ruling out another embargoed engagement for Catherine before 10th.