London: For months, royal family members have been carrying out individual visits or working remotely via video calls. However, today several family members assembled en masse for the first time since March to thank volunteers and key workers at Windsor Castle.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge concluded their royal train tour of the UK with a stop at the castle, where the Queen is currently staying alongside Prince Philip. They were also joined by Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince Edward and Sophie, and Princess Anne for a socially-distanced visit in the castle’s quadrangle. The royals listened to Christmas carols performed by the Salvation Army Band before greeting volunteers and workers from the Berkshire area who will be working over the Christmas period.
Prince Philip, who retired from public duties in 2017, did not join the event, but the Queen looked in good spirits and festive in a bright red outfit and matching hat. It is the first time since March that all the royals have been in one place. Their last joint engagement was to the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9 when Harry and Meghan were also in attendance.
The Cambridges set off on their tour of the UK on the royal train on Sunday “to pay tribute to the incredible work of individuals and organisations that have gone above and beyond in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” They traveled 1,250 miles over three days visiting destinations including Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff and Bath.
Ahead of the trip a Kensington Palace spokesperson 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.”
It has been all smiles wherever they have stopped, however the trip has not been without its critics, with restrictions still in place throughout many of their destinations. When asked about the visit, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Scottish government was advised about the intention to visit, and we made sure that the Royal Household were aware, as you would expect, of all of the the restrictions in place in Scotland so that could inform both the decision and the planning of the visit.” The Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, “I’d rather no-one was having unnecessary visits.”