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Kate Middleton and Prince William begin three-day UK train tour

Prince William and Kate Middleton arrived in Scotland this morning as they kicked off a three-day whirlwind tour of the UK to pay tribute to frontline workers and thank them for their efforts during Covid-19 crisis. 

As the couple arrived in Edinburgh this morning, they pulled into Edinburgh Waverley station to the sounds of a piper playing Christmas songs including Jingle Bells and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

Wearing face masks, William and Kate thanked the piper before leaving the station.

Before they left, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 38, appeared in high spirits as they penned a note of thanks on boards at Paddington Station in London, in homage to transport staff who have worked throughout the pandemic.   

Kensington Palace shared images of the notice and of Kate writing the words and William signing it.

The message read: ‘Thank you to all transport workers everywhere for keeping the country moving throughout this difficult year. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Catherine. William’  

William and Kate left Euston Station on board the Royal Train last night for the first of nine stops on their whirlwind 48 hour, 1,250-mile tour across England, Scotland and Wales which kicks off this morning.

It was a royal departure like no other and even featured a special performance from 80s pop star Shakin’ Stevens who performed his perennial festive favourite, ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ for transport workers at the station.

The royal couple are keen to pay tribute in person to the incredible work of individuals and organisations that have gone above and beyond in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Duchess of Cambridge last night penned a note of thanks on boards at Euston Station in London

William wished transport workers a Merry Christmas as he thanked them for their service throughout the pandemic

William wished transport workers a Merry Christmas as he thanked them for their service throughout the pandemic 

Their Royal Highnesses are travelling on the Royal Train (pictured) between Sunday and Tuesday, making stops in England, Scotland and Wales in line with government guidance

Their Royal Highnesses are travelling on the Royal Train (pictured) between Sunday and Tuesday, making stops in England, Scotland and Wales in line with government guidance

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will meet the Queen for a heart-warming family engagement at the end of a nationwide 'Christmas Express' tour on the royal train, starting today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will meet the Queen for a heart-warming family engagement at the end of a nationwide ‘Christmas Express’ tour on the royal train, starting today

William and Kate left Euston Station on board the Royal Train (pictured) last night for the first of nine stops on their whirlwind 48 hour, 1,250-mile tour across England, Scotland and Wales

William and Kate left Euston Station on board the Royal Train (pictured) last night for the first of nine stops on their whirlwind 48 hour, 1,250-mile tour across England, Scotland and Wales 

The Duchess, wearing an Alexander McQueen coat and tartan scarf, tapped her foot and swayed to the music as they waved to passengers from a balcony.

Stevens, 72, said he was ‘over the moon’ to be playing for the Duke and Duchess, revealing that it was the first time he had played for royalty in his long career.

‘I’m loving it, it was lovely to be invited,’ he said. ‘And it was them who chose the song. Over the moon.’

Stevens said the Cambridges were ‘certainly fans’ of his festive hit, adding: ‘They picked it!’

Before climbing aboard the royal train, the couple took time out to meet transport workers at the station to hear about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic.

The Duke told Alero Abbey, TfL area manager for Green Park and Euston: ‘It’s moments like this when people really appreciate what you do every day. Suddenly we all know what you do and that you do a really good job.’

Network Rail staff altered the departure boards for the occasion, changing Wolverhampton to Warmerhampton, Coventry to Coventry Carol and Northampton to Northpolehamton.

William and Kate were keen to personally pass on their thanks to Transport for London, Network Rail and train operating companies for everything they have done to keep the capital running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trip has been organised so the couple can thank frontline workers, volunteers, care home staff, teachers, schoolchildren and young people and hear about their experiences and sacrifices, as well as the inspirational work they have done throughout this life-changing year.

A source said: ‘Their Royal Highnesses want to pass on the nation’s sincere thanks and gratitude for all of their efforts to keep people safe and keep the country going.’

Details of the engagements will be kept secret until the couple’s arrival so as not to encourage crowds.

But a series of ‘fun’ surprises have been organised at each of the couple’s stops as they celebrate community spirit and demonstrate the impact of the public’s generosity this year, by showcasing organisations and initiatives that have been supported by community relief funds, including NHS Charities Together.

The couple also plan to showcase the UK’s arts, heritage and live performance sector, which have been decimated by Covid and the resulting lockdowns.

There will be a number of festive performances across the three days by local artists, and visits to highlight the work done by the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

The mini tour will end with the William and Kate meeting with the Queen, Charles and Camilla for a rare photo call together. The retired Prince Philip, 99, will not be present.

One of the highlights of the trip will be the couple’s arrival at each stop on the Queen’s distinctive burgundy-liveried Royal Train.

William and Kate left Euston Station on board the Royal Train last night for the first of nine stops on their whirlwind 48 hour, 1,250-mile tour across England, Scotland and Wales first thing in the morning

William and Kate left Euston Station on board the Royal Train last night for the first of nine stops on their whirlwind 48 hour, 1,250-mile tour across England, Scotland and Wales first thing in the morning

The couple were serenaded by 80s pop star Shakin' Stevens, 72, as they boarded the royal train for their first UK tour with a very festive send-off. The singer said he was 'over the moon' to have his first ever performance to royalty

The couple were serenaded by 80s pop star Shakin’ Stevens, 72, as they boarded the royal train for their first UK tour with a very festive send-off. The singer said he was ‘over the moon’ to have his first ever performance to royalty

The Duchess, wearing an Alexander McQueen coat and tartan scarf, tapped her foot and swayed to the music as they waved to passengers from a balcony

The Duchess, wearing an Alexander McQueen coat and tartan scarf, tapped her foot and swayed to the music as they waved to passengers from a balcony

Before climbing aboard the royal train, the couple took time out to meet transport workers at the station to hear about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic

Before climbing aboard the royal train, the couple took time out to meet transport workers at the station to hear about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic

A source said: 'Their Royal Highnesses want to pass on the nation's sincere thanks and gratitude for all of their efforts to keep people safe and keep the country going'

A source said: ‘Their Royal Highnesses want to pass on the nation’s sincere thanks and gratitude for all of their efforts to keep people safe and keep the country going’

After enjoying a performance by Shakin' Stevens and speaking with railway workers, the couple boarded the train on the first leg of their journey. Details of the engagements will be kept secret until the couple's arrival so as not to encourage crowds

After enjoying a performance by Shakin’ Stevens and speaking with railway workers, the couple boarded the train on the first leg of their journey. Details of the engagements will be kept secret until the couple’s arrival so as not to encourage crowds

The Duke and Duchess applaud Shakin' Stevens as he sings Merry Christmas Everyone

Stevens, 72, said he was 'over the moon' to be playing for the Duke and Duchess, revealing that it was the first time he had played for royalty in his long career

Stevens, 72, said he was ‘over the moon’ to be playing for the Duke and Duchess, revealing that it was the first time he had played for royalty in his long career

Before they departed, the couple took time out to meet transport workers at the station to hear about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic

Before they departed, the couple took time out to meet transport workers at the station to hear about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic

Network Rail staff altered the departure boards for the occasion, changing Wolverhampton to Warmerhampton, Coventry to Coventry Carol and Northampton to Northpolehamton

Network Rail staff altered the departure boards for the occasion, changing Wolverhampton to Warmerhampton, Coventry to Coventry Carol and Northampton to Northpolehamton

Permission to travel on the nine-carriage train has to be given by the Queen personally, and she is said to be very much behind her grandson and granddaughter-in-law's 'wonderful' idea

Permission to travel on the nine-carriage train has to be given by the Queen personally, and she is said to be very much behind her grandson and granddaughter-in-law’s ‘wonderful’ idea

One of the highlights of the trip will be the couple's arrival at each stop on the Queen's distinctive burgundy-liveried Royal Train

One of the highlights of the trip will be the couple’s arrival at each stop on the Queen’s distinctive burgundy-liveried Royal Train

Over the next few days, William and Kate, will travel 1,250 miles and undertake working visits meeting NHS staff, volunteers, care home staff, teachers, schoolchildren and young people to hear about their experiences, sacrifices and the work they have done throughout this challenging year. 

The couple will also pass on the nation’s sincere thanks and gratitude for all of their efforts to keep people safe and keep the country going.

Ahead of their trip, 10-year-old British artist, Joe Whale – known as The Doodle Boy, has created an illustration to bring the journey to life.

Many of the engagements undertaken by the Cambridges will celebrate community spirit and demonstrate the impact of the public’s generosity this year, by showcasing organisations and initiatives that have been supported by community relief funds, including NHS Charities Together.

Their Royal Highnesses’ visits will also showcase the UK’s arts, heritage and live performance sector, which has been supported throughout the pandemic by the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. 

There will be a number of festive performances across the three days by local artists, celebrating the inspiring work of the organisations and projects the Duke and Duchess are visiting.

Queen Victoria was the first reigning British sovereign to use the Royal Train, in June 1842. 

The journey was from Slough (at that time the closest train station to Windsor Castle) to London Paddington. 

Royal guests have to make do with small single beds. There are no showers - instead there are rather dated-looking 70s-style baths with a marker line to stop them being over-filled

Royal guests have to make do with small single beds. There are no showers – instead there are rather dated-looking 70s-style baths with a marker line to stop them being over-filled

Although the train looks grand from the outside, its carriage are far more spartan than anyone could imagine

Although the train looks grand from the outside, its carriage are far more spartan than anyone could imagine

There is, however, a 12-steamer supper car with a Formica table

There is, however, a 12-steamer supper car with a Formica table

Ahead of their trip, 10-year-old British artist, Joe Whale - known as The Doodle Boy, has created an illustration to bring the journey to life

Ahead of their trip, 10-year-old British artist, Joe Whale – known as The Doodle Boy, has created an illustration to bring the journey to life

Queen Victoria was the first reigning British sovereign to use the Royal Train, in June 1842. The journey was from Slough - at that time the closest train station to Windsor Castle - to London, Paddington

Queen Victoria was the first reigning British sovereign to use the Royal Train, in June 1842. The journey was from Slough – at that time the closest train station to Windsor Castle – to London, Paddington

In the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee a single set of ‘Royal Train’ carriages was formed for the first time and has remained in service ever since. 

The locomotives that power the train are capable of speeds up to 125mph, but are restricted to 100mph when on royal duty. 

The Royal Train was used just five times in 2018, costing on average £22,000 a time. 

The Queen, 94, used it just twice in 2018, to Chester with Meghan Markle, 39, costing £29,714, and again in March 2019 when she visited the west of England and returned to Windsor, which cost the public purse £21,230.

Prince Charles, 72, the only other senior royal permitted to use the Royal Train until now, made three trips on it. 

A spokesperson for Kensington Palace said: ‘The Duke and Duchess are very much looking forward to shining a spotlight on the incredible work that has been done across the country throughout this difficult year and to sharing their gratitude on behalf of the nation for all those supporting their local communities ahead of the Christmas holidays.’

The Queen, 94, used the Royal Train just twice in 2018, once to Chester with Meghan Markle, 39, in June (pictured) costing £29,714

The Queen, 94, used the Royal Train just twice in 2018, once to Chester with Meghan Markle, 39, in June (pictured) costing £29,714

Prince William and his father Prince Charles arriving at Bangor Station on the Royal Train in 2003 for a visit to Wales in the run-up to his 21st birthday

Prince William and his father Prince Charles arriving at Bangor Station on the Royal Train in 2003 for a visit to Wales in the run-up to his 21st birthday

This year the Queen and Prince Philip, who traditionally spend the festive season with close family at Sandringham in Norfolk, will spend Christmas ‘quietly’ at Windsor Castle. 

It is understood they will not form a ‘bubble’ with any other family members.

It means the couple face spending Christmas Day without any of their four children for the first time since 1949, when the then Princess Elizabeth left a one-year-old Charles in the UK so she could be with Prince Philip in Malta.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are likely to spend Christmas either at Anmer Hall, in Norfolk, or at the Middleton family home in Berkshire.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will spend Christmas at Highgrove, in Gloucestershire, although they expect to see the Queen and Prince Philip at Windsor at some point over the festive season. Camilla will also spend time with her family.

Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex and their children live at Bagshot Park, Surrey, while Princess Anne and her family live at Gatcombe Park, in Gloucestershire. Prince Andrew is the only one of the Queen’s four children who lives in Windsor.

The Queen won’t attend a church service on Christmas Day in order to prevent crowds gathering but is expected to worship privately in Windsor Castle’s private chapel.


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