Prince William and Kate Middleton made their first in-person engagements on Friday after being locked down for weeks at their country estate Anmer Hall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the UK has started to lift the lockdown, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are eager to find out how local businesses have been coping during the pandemic.
William and Kate both made public appearances on Friday, but in separate locations. Prince William visited Smith the Bakers in King’s Lynn, while Kate stopped by the Fakenham Garden Center. Both of the royals practiced social distancing during their visits, but neither wore masks.
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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 coronavirus, and how they are returning to a new normal. 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, with 80% of the company’s wholesale customers having to close their own operations. The Duchess of Cambridge visited Fakenham Garden Centre, where she met the centre’s owners, before speaking to staff members, and heard more about the measures which that the garden centre has implemented to ensure that customers are able to visit and shop safely. The Duke and Duchess’ visits come as The Queen, Patron of the British Chambers of Commerce, sent a message of support to business communities as they continue to reopen — visit @theroyalfamily to read Her Majesty’s message.
During Prince William’s visit at the bakery, he purchased some bread with his contactless card. The owners of the bakery also surprised the Duke of Cambridge with a special birthday cake since he will turn 38 on June 21.
The personalized cake featured a message that read: “Happy Birthday Prince William From All At Smith the Bakers.” The decorations included numerous Union Jack flags and soccer balls.
According to People magazine, the bakery just reopened on June 15 after being closed for 11 weeks, and the owners told Prince William that they were forced to furlough numerous staff members.
They also shared how they changed their business model by offering delivery services to local residents, and they have also started selling new product lines because the demand for baking ingredients like flour and sugar has dramatically increased.
At Middleton’s engagement – which was just down the road from Anmer Hall where Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis were spending the afternoon – she met with the garden center’s owner and staff to discuss the measures they have put in place since reopening on May 15. The garden center was closed for seven weeks because of the pandemic.
Prince William looks so happy!! 💙 Warms my heart! pic.twitter.com/vJudYmMObC
— Princess Charlotte Fan🌸💜🌻 (@CharlotteFan20) June 19, 2020
The last time Kate Middleton made a public appearance was on March 19, when she and Prince William visited the London Ambulance Service call center in South London. Earlier this week, Prince William made his first post-lockdown public appearance at an ambulance station to honor emergency workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Duke of Cambridge also visited an ambulance base at Queen Elizabeth Hospital to thank the workers for “their work and dedication responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and to hear more about their experiences over the past few months.”