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William, Catherine visit Wales in first official duty since mourning for Queen

The new Prince and Princess of Wales have visited Wales on the first opportunity after the end of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II>

September 28, 2022
By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent and Bronwen Weatherby, PA
28 September 2022

The Prince and Princess of Wales have fulfilled a promise to Wales “as soon as possible” by visiting on the first day after the royal period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II ended.

Prince William and Catherine travelled to Anglesey where they made their first home as newlyweds, and where they raised their eldest son Prince George for the first few months of his life.

Large crowds surrounded Holyhead Marina to greet the royal couple.

Prince and Princess of Wales visit to Wales
The Princess of Wales meets members of the public during her visit to the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station in Anglesey (Paul Ellis/PA)

Being the Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales has revealed he has started learning Welsh as it emerges he has no plans to stage a formal investiture to mark receiving his new title.

William spoke about getting to grips with the language with Reverend Steven Bunting from St Thomas Church in Swansea where he and Catherine, the Princess of Wales, visited on Tuesday afternoon, telling him he had already picked up the word ‘paned’, meaning a cup of tea.

“We already know they love Wales but having them here has been amazing and is an early sign, I think, of their commitment to Wales,” Bunting said.

“They’ve blown us away by speaking to every person young and old, it shows how wholly committed they are to their role as Prince and Princess of Wales.

 
 

“The Prince of Wales was even talking about learning Welsh, and said he’d learned the word ‘paned’ meaning cup of tea and ‘bara brith’.

“I think he’s taking being Prince of Wales very, very seriously.”

His father, King Charles, studied Welsh while at university in Aberystwyth and paid tribute to his teacher Tedi Millward when he died in 2020.

It is understood William has no plans for “any kind” of an investiture like the ceremony staged for the King, who was officially invested with the title Prince of Wales by the Queen during an event staged at Caernarfon Castle in July 1969.

A royal source said in the aftermath of the Queen’s death: “The new Princess of Wales appreciates the history associated with this role but will understandably want to look to the future as she creates her own path.”

Charles in 1969
The investiture ceremony of the then-Prince of Wales in 1969. (PA)

A spokesperson for the couple said this week: “Right now they are focused on deepening the trust and respect they have with the people of Wales over time.”

A few days after the Queen’s death, William spoke on the telephone to Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, in a conversation in which William mentioned his “deep affection for Wales”.

The prince, who served as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot when living on Anglesey with wife Kate, “expressed his and the Princess of Wales’s honour in being asked by the King to serve the Welsh people”.

Crowd reaction

Among those waiting patiently for hours was four-year-old Theo Crompton – wearing his school tie and uniform – who was rewarded with the chance to present a bouquet of pink roses to Kate and also meet William.

His mother, Rebecca Crompton, 35, said: “We were actually on the way to school when I changed my mind and decided to bring him down here for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“And now he has just met the future king. Today’s visit is history. We had to be here.”

Prince and Princess of Wales visit to Wales
The Prince of Wales meets onlookers during a visit to Holyhead Marina Cafe and Bar in Holyhead, Wales (Danny Lawson/PA)

GP Hannah Sanders, 36, husband, Ed, 35, and their 12-day-old son Tomos, from Menai Bridge, were also in the crowd as Kate spotted Mrs Sanders cradling her newborn baby.

Sanders said: “She asked me how old he was and how he had been sleeping. She said she remembered having George here on the island when he was this sort of age.

“She told me to enjoy the time together and promised that sleep does get better.”

Michelle Challis-Jones, 50, from Holyhead, also spoke briefly to Kate who stroked the dog she was carrying, named Ollie.

Challis-Jones said: “She said he keeps you warm, he’s like a hot water bottle. She was talking about her dog and they could have fun on the beach together.”

William and Kate were warmly welcomed by onlookers and received several rounds of applause and cheers.

William was heard to recall the couple’s first official engagement in 2011 after they announced their wedding when they launched a new RNLI lifeboat at Trearddur Bay, Anglesey.

Kate receives some flowers
Kate receives a posy of flowers from four-year-old Theo Crompton (Danny Lawson/PA)

He told crowd member Pauline Bentley: “She (Kate) smashed the bottle. It really works.”

Earlier they met crew and volunteers from Holyhead Lifeboat Station, one of the oldest on the Welsh coast, where over the years its members have received a total of 70 awards for gallantry.

The station’s president, Graham Drinkwater, 74, told the couple: “I was the youngest once and now I’m the oldest. I started in 1966 which was my first lifeboat call and 2002 was my last.

“There was no training when I started. You were thrown into the deep end.”

The station’s coxswain, Tony Price, told William and Kate about its new mental health welfare room on site.

Prince and Princess of Wales visit to Wales
The Prince and Princess of Wales wave to members of the public outside St Thomas Church, in Swansea (Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph/PA)

He said to them: “We had an incident here in Holyhead where one of the crew gave CPR and tried to revive a person. Within the chaos and everything going on we realised we didn’t have a bolthole – somewhere our crew could go to look into that welfare.

“We now have a 24/7 helpline for the crew. The greatest thing they have done is when they (the crew) turn up now they can actually say ‘no, this is not for me’. I think that’s great.”

Prince and Princess of Wales visit to Wales
The Prince of Wales hears about the help offered to families by St Thomas Church (Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph/PA)

William also spoke to local sea cadets including Kian Evans who said he aspired to join the Marines.

When the youngster told him he enjoyed drills, the prince quipped: “I have not heard many future Marines say they like the drill. They usually avoid the drill.”

Hundreds of people gathered to greet the couple on their trip to Swansea, with a number of residents hanging out their windows to film the occasion.

Prince and Princess of Wales visit to Wales
The Princess of Wales meets Charlotte Bunting, aged two, dressed in the Welsh national costume, during a visit to St Thomas Church in Swansea (Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph/PA)

There were shouts of ‘welcome to Swansea’ while William and Kate posed for dozens of selfies as they walked along the crowded pavements.

Several young children gave Kate bouquets of flowers, and she stopped to wipe the tears away from on young boy’s cheek who had been overcome at seeing the Princess.

Inside the church they met local school pupils and workers at a community kitchen which teaches parents and children how to cook.

Speaking to one young girl who was making cookies, William said: “Kate is a very good cook.

“I do very good breakfasts. Bacon, sausage and egg, I can do that.”

Prince and Princess of Wales visit to Wales
The Prince of Wales meets members of the public outside St Thomas Church in Swansea(Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph/PA)

He later entered the food bank located inside the church where he helped pack a family food parcel.

Kate spoke to two community nursery nurses who refer mothers to the church’s on-site baby bank.

Kate has previously worked with baby banks and in 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate more than 10,000 new items to some 40 such banks nationwide.

Nurse Francesca Cordone told the Princess: “This is a godsend to so many mothers. We refer people weekly.”

Kate asked: “Are more people needing to be referred now because of the cost-of-living crisis?”

“Yes, we’re seeing lots more,” Ms Cordone replied.

Greeting Kate at the baby bank was Rev Bunting’s wife Rachel and daughter Charlotte who was dressed in a traditional Welsh costume.

Kate told the two-year-old: “I have a Charlotte at home too. Do you know where my Charlotte is? She’s in school with her brothers George and Louis.”

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