The Duchess of Cambridge revealed she and Prince William have been doing the food shopping during lockdown as she returned to royal duties with a visit to the local garden centre.
Kate Middleton, 38, dressed down in a £175 gilet, shirt and jeans for yesterday’s trip to family-run Fakenham Garden Centre, near her Norfolk home of Anmer Hall.
The visit, which was made public today, marks the Duchess’ first official engagement since the start of lockdown on March 23.
During the visit, the Kate revealed she and William, 37, have been making trips to go ‘food shopping’ in recent weeks but have otherwise been at home with their three children, Prince George, six, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two.
She said the children have been growing tomato plants and have been learning about the importance of spending time outside.
Meanwhile the Duke of Cambridge, 37, today carried out his second engagement of the week with a visit to Smiths the Bakers, in King’s Lynn, where he was presented with a cake ahead of his 38th birthday on Sunday.
Back to work! The Duchess of Cambridge returned to royal duties yesterday with a visit to a local garden centre
Supporting small businesses: The Duchess of Cambridge talks to Martin and Jennie Turner, owners of the Fakenham Garden Centre, near her Norfolk home of Anmer Hall. The Duchess learned about how COVID-19 has impacted the business
Light-hearted moment: Kate giggled as she shared a joke with the owners during her visit to the garden centre yesterday
Returning to royal duties: The visit to the garden centre marked Kate’s first public outing since the start of lockdown in March
Popping to the shops! This morning Prince William paid a visit to a bakery in King’s Lynn, where he picked up some pastries
In the community: The Duke of Cambridge spoke to store employee Ted Bartram during the visit to Smiths the Bakers
Speaking to garden centre owners Martin and Jennie Turner, Kate revealed she loves coming to garden centres with her three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
‘They love it,’ she said with a smile, adding: ‘It’s such a great space for children and families to come to garden centres.
‘I’ve been food shopping but I have to say I haven’t been out a huge amount more but it’s good and so important, now as things start to ease, people know they can go out and particularly to places like this.’
The Cambridges have spent much of the lockdown at Anmer Hall with their children, and while unable to attend their usual royal events have been holding virtual visits to care centres and hospitals via video calls.
Kate also said she and William had found the social effects of the pandemic unsettling: ‘When we do our food shopping we notice that everyone keeps their head down and it’s hard for that social interaction.’
Spending time outdoors is a cornerstone of the duchess’s work with youngsters, and something she encourages her children to do as much as possible.
Dressed down: The Duchess of Cambridge wore a £125 gilet, casual shirt, black jeans and a pair of Superga trainers
Good spirits: The Duchess of Cambridge couldn’t keep the smile from her face as she visited the garden centre yesterday
Happy outdoors: Speaking to members of staff, Kate revealed how much her family enjoyed trips to garden centres
Keeping it casual: The Duchess of Cambridge wore a simple pair of green drop earrings (left) and her engagement ring (right)
Low-profile: During the visit Kate revealed she and Prince William have been doing the food shopping during lockdown
Learning more: The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to the owners about the way their business had been affected in lockdown
She said: ‘It’s come up in so many different conversations whether it’s food, volunteering, and in all the mental health work that we’ve been doing, about how everyone is benefiting from being outside.
‘So yes, they’ve been in lockdown but loads of families have been out on walks, more than they would do, outside.’
She also revealed that George loved to play with Venus flytrap plants at garden centres, and while at home the three children have been growing tomato plants. ‘They were very excited to grow them from seeds and now they’re as tall as them,’ Kate said.
Mr Turner told her about some of the difficulties his garden centre, in Fakenham near King’s Lynn, had faced over the last three months.
‘This has been the most challenging thing we’ve ever experienced. We completely shut until after Easter and then we opened for some collections and deliveries in the car park,’ he told the duchess.
Family fun: Speaking at the centre, the Duchess of Cambridge revealed her children have grown tomato plants from seeds
On trend: A keen gardener, the Duchess spoke about the increased interest in gardening during lockdown on her visit
Leading by example: The royal family are today encouraging people to support small businesses following lockdown
Glowing: The Duchess of Cambridge was sporting a tan thanks to spending time outdoors with her family at home
Getting into the details: Kate Middleton wanted to hear more about what products had proved popular during the visit
‘We have 50 staff and we had to furlough around 15 due to closing the coffee shop and family members shielding or childcare issues. Four or five people have very unfortunately had to be made redundant, as going forward we can’t sustain them.’
But once they started to trade again three weeks ago, he said people had been keen to buy plants, to which Kate said: ‘There’s been a massive upsurge hasn’t there as people have been spending so much time outdoors and in their gardens.’
The duchess was delighted when Mr Turner told her that they had seen a lot of people who had never gardened before.
She said: ‘Really, that’s great, and now people have the time to do it. For those who are keen gardeners, have they struggled not being able to come in and maybe look or buy things?’
High street shopping: This morning Prince William popped to King’s Lynn high street to visit Smiths the Bakers
Safety first: The Duke of Cambridge sanitised his hands (left) before choosing croissants and pain au chocolat for his family
‘Can I pay by card?’ The Duke of Cambridge used contactless payment to pay owner Teresa Brandon for his pastries
Birthday boy! Prince William was presented with a cake (right) ahead of his 38th birthday this Sunday
Kicking off the celebrations! Prince William, who will turn 38 on Sunday, looked delighted with the cake from the bakery
Thoughtful touches: Football fan Prince William no doubt would have been pleased with the decorations
Mr Turner agreed and said one of the most difficult things had been trying to get hold of compost as it had been so popular.
The duchess asked: ‘What are people buying now? Is it vegetables or flowers or plants?’ and nodded as she was told ‘annuals’.
Meeting garden workers Michaela Giura, 35, from Norwich, and Tobias Davies, 47, she asked if they were glad to be back – smiling in agreement when they asked if she was too.
‘It’s good to get a structure and a routine back isn’t it?’
The duchess also met Sam Wade, 53, from Fakenham, who had been working in the coffee shop but was retrained by daughter Polly Wade, 25, to use the tills.
Ready to serve: The Duke of Cambridge wanted to highlight the fact that small, independent businesses are reopening
Support: The Duke of Cambridge speaks to owners Paul and Teresa Brandon during a visit to Smiths the Bakers
Treats for the family: Father-of-three Prince William picked up enough treats to keep Kate and the children satisfied
Profound effect: Prince William spoke to shop staff Sarah Easthall and Ted Bartram and heard how the business had been hit
Hometime! The Duke of Cambridge carried his cake and the pastries out of the store and made his way home
Mr Wade said: ‘It’s amazing that Kate came and showed everyone we’re open for business. That’s exactly what the royals should be doing.’
This morning William spoke to the owners of the bakery along with members of staff about how the coronavirus restrictions have impacted on the family-run business, with 80 per cent of the company’s wholesale customers having to close their own operations.
He heard how the business had to furlough a number of staff members but also how it adapted its business model during lockdown by operating a delivery service to local residents, and selling new lines of products to meet the demand for baking ingredients such as flour and sugar.
The visits come as Her Majesty The Queen, Patron of the British Chambers of Commerce, sent a message of support to business communities as they continue to reopen.