And the day finally came. After almost three months of lockdown, The Duchess of Cambridge made her first public appearance. The Duchess visited Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk on Thursday. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been isolating with their three kids at their country residence Anmer Hall at Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.
About the visit, Palace said, “As non-essential shops start reopening in parts of the UK, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited two independent businesses to hear how they have been impacted by the coronavirus, and how they are returning to a new normal.“
During her first public outing, The Duchess met the centre’s owners, before speaking to staff members. Catherine heard more about the measures which the garden centre has implemented to ensure that customers are able to visit and shop safely. It was Catherine’s first in-person engagement since her last visit to London Ambulance Service in March before the lockdown. The garden centre reopened this week as non-essential shops are now allowed to reopen in the United Kingdom. From Mirror’s report,
Kate told staff that she takes her royal kids to garden centres all the time, saying: “They love it, it’s such a great space for children and families.
“I’ve been food shopping but I have to say I haven’t been out a huge amount more but it’s good and so important, now as things start to ease, people know they can go out and particularly to places like this.”
She also revealed that George loved to play with Venus flytrap plants at garden centres and that the kids have been growing tomato plants. She said: “They were very excited to grow them from seeds and now they’re as tall as them.”
She also voiced her concerns about the social effects of the pandemic, adding: “When we do our food shopping we notice that everyone keeps their head down and it’s hard for that social interaction.”
The Duchess of Cambridge has been supporting a garden centre close to the Sandringham Estate, to encourage people to bring back their customers to local businesses which have been struggling during Coronavirus pandemic. From Daily Star’s report,
The Duchess, who earlier spoke to garden centre owners Martin and Jennie Turner, told her: “We’ve just been talking about everyone getting out and businesses getting up and running again, it’s been really, really hard. How’s it been for his staff?”
Mrs McNeil replied: “They’re all on furlough and he’s starting to get the chefs back, and now we want to make the garden look good as it hasn’t been touched for donkeys’ years.” She said after the visit: “It was lovely talking to Kate and she knew her stuff on gardening.”
The Duchess of Cambridge has been working from home for the last three months and the emphasis was on Mental health. Keen Gardener and outdoor lover, Catherine has been championing the positive impact of nature on mental wellbeing for a long time. During the visit, she told a customer, “It’s come up in so many different conversations whether it’s food, volunteering, and in all the mental health work that we’ve been doing, about how everyone is benefitting from being outside. So yes, they’ve been in lockdown but loads of families have been out on walks, more than they would do, outside.” From Emily Nash’s report,
She asked staff including Michaela Giura, 35, from Norwich, and Tobias Davies, 47, if they were glad to be back at work and smiled in agreement when they asked if she was too. “It’s good to get a structure and a routine back isn’t it?” she said.
Sam Wade, 53, from Fakenham, who has retrained to use the tills since the coffee shop closed, said: “It’s amazing that Kate came and showed everyone we’re open for business. That’s exactly what the royals should be doing.”
The Duchess also spoke to customers including Wendy McNeil, 72, from Holme Hale. “Have you been doing lots of planting?” she asked. Wendy later admitted that she hadn’t recognised the royal as she shopped for herbs for her son’s pub, The York, in Norwich.
The Duchess also spoke to Patsy and Mike Thompson, both 85, asking them: “Have you been able to see your family a little bit?” Patsy replied; “Yes, it’s been lovely.”
“Isn’t she lovely?” Patsy said afterwards. “I thought ‘Isn’t that Kate?’ and then we saw the photographers and Mike thought ‘well it’s not for our benefit!’
“It’s very important for members of the royal family to be out and about to show Britain is open. We think they’re marvellous particularly the Queen as we are great royalists. It’s been a lovely day. Our plants by royal appointment!”
Today, Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, also made a public visit. The Duke of Cambridge visited Smiths the Bakers, who have been serving Kings Lynn for 50 years. With the owners of the bakery and members of staff, The Duke spoke about how coronavirus restrictions have impacted on the family-run business. Prince was presented with a vanilla sponge cake ahead of his 38th birthday on Sunday. He bought some pain au chocolates for the kids and joked that they’d refuse to speak to him if he didn’t return home with lots of sweet treats as ‘kids have been attacking the kitchen during the lockdown”. Continuing from Mirror,
Paul Brandon, who runs the bakery business with his wife Teresa, told the duke that he had read that he had done some baking during the lockdown.
“I’ve done a little bit of baking,” William said. “The children have been attacking the kitchen and it’s just been an explosion of flour and chocolate everywhere. Catherine’s been doing quite a bit of baking.”
William also bought some treats for his family, telling staff: “I can’t come in here and not buy anything, so have you got any pain au chocolat at all?
“Have you got any more by any chance? “My children will not talk to me if I turn up without enough.”
He asked for five pain au chocolat but there were not enough in the shop, so he opted for four pain au chocolat and a plain croissant.
Taking out his card to pay the £4.15 total by contactless, the duke said “I hope this works”, before the transaction went through. “Good, it’s still working – first time out in a while!”
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visits come as Her Majesty The Queen, Patron of the British Chambers of Commerce, sent a message of support to business communities as they continue to reopen.
As many organisations around the country are reopening, I send my warmest best wishes and support to business communities throughout the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and across the world.
At a time of great difficulty for many, it is heart-warming to see the civic response and generosity of so many businesses, small and large, to the challenges posed, whether supporting the health sector or vulnerable communities.
As Patron of the British Chambers of Commerce, it gives me great pride to see the contribution you and your members are making to help firms, champion trade and rebuild communities.
I wish all businesses every success in their endeavours in the weeks and months ahead.
Video of the visit.
For her first in-person engagement, The Duchess of Cambridge chose a comfortable country style. She was wearing a Dark Olive Fjällräven Sörmland Padded Vest. Thanks to @Irishsara1980 on Twitter for the quick id.
The €199.95 vest has been described as, “Comfortable and practical vest in pliant polyester with reinforcements in G-1000 Silent Eco. Lightly padded with G-Loft Supreme Compact for extra warmth on cold days.” It features two spacious bellows pockets with flaps, the right-hand one with an ammunition holder and a back pocket.
Underneath the vest, Catherine was wearing her Jaeger Aqua Linen Shirt that she first wore in May 2019 ahead of the launch of her Back to Nature Garden.
The Duchess teamed up the shirt with a new Massimo DuttiChocolate Skinny Fit High-Rise Satin Trousers. Thanks to @innominate_93 for the id. The $69.90 trouser is described as, “Five-pocket skinny satin trousers. Featuring a high-rise waist, belt loops and zip fly and logo button fastening. Made from TENCEL®Lyocell. TENCEL® is made of wood sourced from sustainably managed forests that guarantee reforestation.” It is currently available in black.
She was wearing her Superga 2750 Cotu Classic Shoes.
Duchess finished her look with Monica Vinader Siren Earrings.