The Prince of Wales has told volunteers and operational staff who helped to organise the Queen’s Committal Service that moments of sadness ‘catch [him] out’ while he grieves for his grandmother, Her late Majesty.
Prince William and Kate, who opted to wear her recycled £2,150 Dolce & Gabbana collarless long coat in black, arrived at Windsor Guildhall today to pass on their appreciation to volunteers and staff who worked on the service at St George’s Chapel – which followed Her Majesty’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey.
And during the engagement, which was the first in person engagement for the Prince and Princess of Wales since the state funeral, William said he found himself ‘choked up’ when he saw Paddington Bear tributes to his grandmother, but had found comfort in the public outpouring of support for the Royal Family.
He said: ‘It is the things you don’t expect that get to you,’ he said, adding that he got ‘choked up’ over the Paddington tributes. He went on: ‘It is always very comforting that so many people care. It makes it a lot better.
‘There are certain moments that catch you out. You are prepared for all but certain moments catch you out.’
They also thanked the group for supporting the large crowds that gathered in Windsor to commemorate the Queen and watch the procession of her coffin up the Long Walk to the castle before the service.
William and Kate, dressed all in black as they continue to observe the royal mourning period which lasts until Monday, were greeted by a small crowd of well-wishers upon their arrival outside the hall.
The Royal Family were not expected to carry out any official engagements during their mourning period, after more than a week of being under the world’s gaze while performing ceremonial duties following the Queen’s death.
Yet royal duties recommenced yesterday for William, with the father-of-three making his first speech since his grandmother passed away with a pre-recorded address to the Earthshot Prize summit in New York. The prince was due to attend but cancelled his trip following the Queen’s death.
Buckingham Palace say a small number of engagements will be undertaken during royal mourning to thank those involved in the delivery of HM Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral and associated ceremonial events, and to recognise the service to King and country of those on deployment overseas.
William and Kate aren’t the only royals heading back to work in-person today; Princess Anne, 72, has stepped out at Portsmouth Naval Base, where she shook hands with Royal Navy personnel who took part in the procession. It is her first engagement since attending her mother’s funeral on Monday.
Kate, Princess of Wales, and Prince William attended Windsor Guildhall this afternoon, three days after the funeral of Her late Majesty the Queen, to speak with staff and volunteers who helped organise and run the committal service at St George’s Chapel in Winsdor on Monday
The Princess of Wales remained elegant and composed as she met with staff and volunteers and spoke to them about how they managed to organise a seamless, poignant ceremony to say farewell to Her late Majesty
The Prince and Princess of Wales met with staff, who were also dressed in black to pay their respects to Her late Majesty during the period of mourning
The Prince and Princess of Wales (pictured) have met with volunteers and operational staff to thank them for their work on the Queen ‘s committal service at Windsor Castle
William and Kate arrived at Windsor Guildhall on Thursday for their first royal engagement since the late monarch’s funeral
Speaking to staff, the prince asked whether the Queen passing away at Balmoral ‘made it complicated’. He added: ‘I think I heard it was the ‘”least planned for plan”. It was seamless, you could feel it.’
William and Kate spoke of the extraordinary public response to the Queen’s death as they met with volunteers and workers who helped in Windsor on the day of the State funeral.
It was the couple’s first official engagement since the funeral on Monday, as several senior royals returned to their duties, while continuing to mourn for the Queen.
The couple, now Prince and Princess of Wales, met with unsung heroes who helped behind the scenes, including St John Ambulance volunteers, council workers, stewards and Crown Estate staff who managed the floral tributes left by members of the public.
Kate said she had been ‘amazed’ by the numbers of well-wishers who had wanted to show their support for the Queen.
William joked about the tributes featuring a new ‘competition’ between Paddington Bear and the corgis, saying Paddington was ‘a new addition’ but that the Queen’s beloved corgis ‘have been there for longer’.
The prince and princess arrived dressed all in black as they continue to observe the royal mourning period which lasts until Monday
The pair (pictured) have passed on their appreciation to volunteers and staff who worked on the service at St George’s Chapel on Monday afternoon
The Princess of Wales maintained the full black outfit as the family continues its period of mourning, but she smiled through her grief in order to thank the staff who ensured the Committal service was a fitting tribute to Her late Majesty
Kate waved as she left the meeting in which she and the Prince of Wales said a heartfelt thanks to the staff and volunteers in Windsor, in their first public engagement since the Queen’s funeral
Many of the tributes featured the Queen’s dogs or Paddington, after the Queen filmed a brief sketch with the bear for her Platinum Jubilee in June.
Some well-wishers even left marmalade sandwiches after the monarch joked she kept them in her handbag.
William thanked the team in Windsor for their work following the Queen’s death, adding: ‘We appreciate all the hours you put in.’
Kate added: ‘The spotlight was on Windsor and it looked incredible, so well done.’ An estimated 100,000 bouquets and other tributes were left in Windsor by well-wishers, and the Princess of Wales remarked on some of the emotional messages left with the flowers.
She asked workers: ‘How are you all doing emotionally, because it’s not only physical, particularly reading all the notes.’
Workers from the Crown Estate thanked the couple for coming to see them, but Kate replied: ‘It’s the least we could do. We should have been volunteering.’
The Princess of Wales greeted staff and volunteers with a handshake and a smile as she and her husband, Prince William, thanked them for their hard work in putting together the Committal service
The new Princess of Wales, formerly the Duchess of Cambridge, wore a simple pair of pearl earrings for a touch of class without being ostentatious as the family observes its period of mourning
Despite giving warm smiles to the staff and volunteers, there were points where grief appeared to be etched on the Princess of Wales’s face just three days after the funeral of Her late Majesty
Kate sported an understated look while observing the period of mourning, with her brunette tresses down and straight, light make-up and few accessories
Kate appeared to duck out of the way as Prince William shook hands with a volunteer from St John’s Ambulance, who were on standby throughout the day to ensure the crowds of mourners were safe
The Prince of Wales shook hands with other staff members and volunteers who ensured the crowds who had gathered to pay their respects to the Queen were well looked after and safe
The Prince and Princess of Wales (right) met with the staff and volunteers at Westminster Guildhall, for a reception in which they expressed the family’s gratitude for their hard work
One of the workers who met the Prince of Wales showed him a photo on her phone, which William took a closer look at and smiled
Prince William opened up about his grief after losing his grandmother while he spoke to staff who helped put together her Comittal Service, admitting there were moments of sadness that ‘catch [him] out’
The Prince of Wales also spoke about his relief that, despite the state funeral and Committal Service being one of the most profound occasions the world has ever seen, attended by 2,000 people, the town of Windsor didn’t come ‘to a standstill’
William admitted he and the family had been ‘worried’ that the Queen’s funeral and Committal service might disrupt the lives of ordinary people in Windsor, but he praised staff and volunteers for ensuring this did not happen
Kate told workers and volunteers that she had seen preparations for the Committal Service being made, such as barriers being put up, as she drove around Windsor throughout the week
Windsor Guildhall, pictured, where Kate and William are speaking to volunteers and operational staff to thank them for their work on the Queen’s committal service at Windsor Castle
The couple said they had worried Windsor would be ‘shut down’ by the arrangements, but spoke of their relief that public services had kept running, and that they had been able to get their children to and from school.
Vice Lord Lieutenant Graham Barker and Windsor council’s lead royal funeral planner introduced the Prince and Princess of Wales to staff and volunteers representing different sectors that supported the crowds that turned up to commemorate the Queen.
This included St John’s Ambulance, transport staff, council workers, stewards, infrastructure organisers and logistics teams, who carried out tasks like putting out barriers and making announcements over a speaker system to the crowds.
Kate spoke about seeing all the infrastructure like barriers going up along the roads ‘coming back and forwards from the school run’.
The group spoke about the number of people in the crowds, with one of the logistics staff saying it was about 110,000.
William said: ‘We did not see the whole town come to a standstill. That’s what we were worried about, that it would disrupt everyone’s lives.’
Later, when one of the staff talked about how difficult the last few days must have been, he said: ‘If you flip it on its head, it is always very comforting that so many people care. It makes it a lot better. There are certain moments that catch you out. You are prepared for all but certain moments catch you out.’
The engagement is one of their first since William became the heir apparent and became known as the Prince of Wales, after the death of his grandmother and the accession of his father, Charles, to become the King.
William also inherited the title Duke of Cornwall and is now the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge. Kate is now known as the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.
A period of national mourning ended on Tuesday, but an extended period of royal mourning for family members remains in place until Monday. On Wednesday, a virtual speech from William was played out to the Earthshot Prize conference.
The royal couple spoke to the logistics team who carried out tasks like putting out barriers and making announcements over a speaker system to the crowds. Pictured, Prince William today
The engagement is one of their first since William became the heir apparent and became known as the Prince of Wales, after the death of his grandmother and the accession of his father, Charles, to become the King. Pictured, Kate today
Vice Lord Lieutenant Graham Barker and Windsor council’s lead royal funeral planner introduced the Prince and Princess of Wales to staff and volunteers representing different sectors that supported the crowds that turned up to commemorate the Queen
Kate (pictured left) today spoke about seeing all the infrastructure like barriers going up along the roads ‘coming back and forwards from the school run’
He began by saying: ‘Although it is the saddest circumstances that I am unable to join you today, I am able to join you in video form as you gather in New York for the Earthshot Prize innovation summit.’
He went on to confirm he and Kate would travel to Boston in December for the second Earthshot Prize award ceremony, adding they are ‘so excited.’
Other royals are also undertaking engagements on Thursday to thank people involved in the Queen’s funeral and to recognise the service of those on deployment overseas.
The Earl of Wessex is visiting Estonia and Germany in his role as Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion of The Rifles and Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.
This trip includes thanking members of 2 Rifles for their service to the Queen at Camp Tapa, Estonia, and visiting troops on deployment from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry at the Normandy Barracks in Paderborn, Germany.
The Princess Royal is visiting Portsmouth Naval Base to meet Royal Navy personnel who took part in the funeral procession.
Anne will also visit St Omer Barracks in Aldershot to meet personnel who played a central role in providing logistical support during the funeral.
On Wednesday, a virtual speech from William (pictured today with Kate) was played out to a climate change conference
Princess Anne has stepped out for her first royal engagement since attending her mother, the Queen’s funeral on Monday
Her late Majesty’s only daughter, 72, was seen at Portsmouth Naval Base, where she shook hands with Royal Navy personnel who took part in the procession
The Prince and Princess of Wales’ outing today comes after a royal book claimed William and wife Kate felt ‘relief’ when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their decision to move to the US, because they felt that the ‘drama was gone’.
In a book soon to be published about The Firm, The New Royals, author and journalist Katie Nicholl addressed the deepening division between the Sussexes and other members of the Royal Family after Harry and Meghan decided to step down as senior royals and begin a new life in the US in 2020.
William is reported to have held a summit of aides – which came to be known as the ‘Anmer Summit’ after the couple’s Norfolk home – to discuss the Royal Family’s future in the wake of Harry’s move to the States.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry apparently suggested bringing in a mediator to solve his rift with the rest of the Royal Family, causing Camilla to ‘splutter over her tea’.
The book quotes an unnamed family friend who told the author the Duke of Sussex met with his father in spring this year and wanted ‘to clear the air’ – but the awkward meeting left relations strained.
After the Duke and Duchess did not attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service at Westminster Abbey in March amid a reported dispute over their UK security arrangements, Nicholl wrote that a glimmer of hope was on the horizon when the couple stopped off in the UK before a visit to The Hague for an Invictus Games event a few weeks later.
In an extract of the book published in Vanity Fair, Nicholl said King Charles, who was then Prince of Wales, insisted on a meeting with Harry over tea before he had an audience with the Queen.
The Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex walk to meet members of the public at Windsor Castle in Berkshire
The Prince and Princess of Wales’ outing today comes after a royal book claimed William and wife Kate felt ‘relief’ when Prince Harry (pictured here with Prince William during a special vigil for the Queen) and Meghan Markle announced their decision to move to the US, because they felt that the ‘drama was gone’
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Catherine, Princess of Wales stand at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lays on the catafalque at Westminster Hall on September 14
The Prince of Wales, Prince George, the Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte during the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday
‘The meeting with Charles and Camilla was more awkward than their cordial tea with the queen,’ Nicholl wrote, adding that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were late to the meeting which left Charles with just 15 minutes to catch up with his youngest son and daughter-in-law before he had to attend the Royal Maundy Service at Windsor Castle where he stood in for the Queen.
The family friend said: ‘[Harry] actually suggested that they use a mediator to try and sort things out, which had Charles somewhat bemused and Camilla spluttering into her tea.’
They added the Queen Consort told the Duke his suggestion was ‘ridiculous’ and that they would resolve their differences within the family.
Despite the rift between the Sussexes and the rest of the family, there have been glimpses of a potential reconciliation following the Queen’s death.
It had originally been reported that Harry and Meghan were not planning on meeting with William and Kate during their stay in the UK.
But on the Saturday after the monarch passed away, the Prince and Princess of Wales made their first public appearance outside the Windsor Estate to read tributes that had been left to Her late Majesty and greet mourners.
In an unexpected appearance, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined the couple as the ‘Fab Four’ were reunited in their grief.