Kate Middleton wows in red Alexander McQueen coat Christmas Express

Feeling festive! Kate Middleton wows in pillar-box red Alexander McQueen coat as she and Prince William put on a cosy display and toast marshmallows at Cardiff Castle on the second day of their Christmas tour

  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 38, kick started the second day of their royal train tour across the UK 
  • Kate Middleton and Prince William stepped out in Cardiff this morning where they wrapped up against cold
  • Mother-of-three wore her fourth recycled coat for the occasion, wearing Alexander McQueen cover-up 
  •  Royal couple paid tribute frontline workers during Covid-19 crisis as they made visits around the country 
  • Yesterday the couple met with locals across the country in Edinburgh, Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Manchester 

Kate Middleton wowed in pillar-box red as she and Prince William kicked off the second day of their royal tour today in Cardiff.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 38, embarked on a journey across the country on the royal train on Sunday, visiting cities across the country including Edinburgh and Manchester yesterday to pay tribute in person to the individuals and organisations that have gone above and beyond in response to the Covid-19 crisis.  

The couple stepped out this morning for their first engagement at Cardiff Castle, with the couple sharing a tender moment as they visited a Toast Your Own Marshmallow stall earlier this morning. 

The mother-of-three recycled an Alexander McQueen long-line cover-up for the occasion, which she first wore in October for the launch of her Hold Still competition, and paired the coat with a red tartan scarf and matching skirt. 

Kate Middleton, 38,  wowed in pillar-box red as she and Prince William, 38, kicked off the second day of their royal tour today in Cardiff

The Duchess of Cambridge re-wore a scarlet Alexander McQueen coat for the occasion, pairing the garment with a tartan skirt and matching scarf 

The Duke and Duchess shared a tender moment as they attended a ‘Toast Your Own Marshmallow’ stall during a visit to Cardiff Castle earlier today 

The mother-of-three beamed as she held onto a trio of marshmallows before roasting the tasty treats over an open fire with the Duke 

The Duchess donned her black Ralph Lauren boots for the occasion, and stayed warm with a pair of black leather gloves. 

She swept her hair into a bouncy half updo, revealing her gold hoop earrings from independent Welsh designer Hayley Jones’ brand Spells of Love.

William and Kate left Euston Station on board the Royal Train on Sunday night penning a personal message of thanks for transport workers on a London Underground service information board.

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’

The Duchess swept her hair into a stunning half updo, revealing her gold hoop earrings by Welsh designer Hayley Jone’s Spells of Love brand

The couple enjoyed a quiet moment in the morning sunshine together as they stood at a Christmas stall at the castle during the second day of the tour 

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 singer, known for a string of hits in the 1980s, sang his festive smash-hit single Merry Christmas Everyone for the couple and a group of transport workers.

The track topped the charts during Christmas 1985 and was picked by William and Kate as the song they wanted to hear.

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 looked stunning in the vibrant red ensemble, matching her pillarbox red jacket with a vibrant tartan skirt and scarf 

Later, the couple spoke with members of the public during their visit to Cardiff Castle, which kickstarted the second day of their festive tour 

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 also met with transport workers at the station to hear about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic.

William told Orson Parris, a network traffic controller for Transport for London: ‘Fingers crossed 2021 gets things back to normal.’

The Duchess opted for an Alexander McQueen coat for the occasion, which she first wore in October while launching her Hold Still photography contest in London  (pictured) 

And 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 couple’s first visit during their Christmas Express tour saw the couple depart the royal train in Edinburgh yesterday. 

Among the party waiting to greet them was the Lord Provost of Edinburgh’s official piper, Louise Marshall, who piped the Royal couple through the concourse playing a medley of Christmas hits on the pipes.

Kate opted to wear her black Ralph Lauren boots for the occasion, which she matched with her black leather gloves as she arrived on the cold December morning 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wrapped up as they stepped off the royal train and walked along the platform at Cardiff Central train station on the final day of a three-day tour across the country

The Duke and Duchess were met by Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan Morfudd Meredith as they arrived in Cardiff today and left the station in Cardiff 

The Royal couple’s first engagement of the whistle-stop tour of the UK was to staff at one of the Scottish Ambulance Service’s nerve centres at Newbridge, outside Edinburgh.

William, dressed in a dark blue coat and tartan scarf, and Kate, wearing a blue Catherine Walker coat and carrying a bag by Scottish designer Strathberry, thanked staff for their incredible efforts in coping with their demanding jobs while many were affected by personal Covid tragedies.

They chatted with staff and heard deeply moving accounts of how many of them have been affected personally during the crisis, while continuing to provide vital first response cover across the country.

During their visit, it was announced that the Royal couple would become joint patrons of NHS Charities Together, the charity which has worked tirelessly to provide hospitals and emergency workers with vital PPE equipment.

The SAS received funding from NHS Charities Together, a group of 240 NHS charities, which has been spent on indoor and outdoor wellbeing spaces for staff, as well as wellbeing packs with information booklets and reusable water bottles.

Prince William spoke at length with some of the paramedics about how the additional strains of working under the threat of Covid had impacted on their mental wellbeing.

After travelling overnight from London Euston, the duke was the first to step out of the Royal Claret-coloured carriages, followed by Kate in a Liberty print face covering, with a matching blue coat

During the first visit of their Royal Train Tour across the country, it was announced that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will become Joint Patrons of NHS Charities Together

He and Kate also heard from paramedic Alistair Matson, 54, had to cope with his father falling sick and later dying in hospital during the pandemic. Mr Matson said: ‘It was very emotional talking to the Prince about losing my father.

‘He was very anxious to hear how we managed to cope with the mental strains of our job.

‘I was helped considerably by the great sense of cameraderie at my work. There was never any rush to come back and they have been like another family to me.

‘It was really heartening to see the Royal couple here today acknowledging what we do and their thanks means a lot to us.’

His colleague, John Kane, 59, told the Royal couple how he spent three weeks in an induced coma in Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital after contracting the virus.

He explained: ‘I had to be placed on a ventilator for three weeks and placed in an induced coma.

‘It was a terrifying time and the recovery has been slow, but again the SAS has helped that. The Prince was particularly interested in how we manage the mental wellbeing of our own staff.’

It also emerged during their visit that the couple had sent a special bouquet of flowers to the family of a veteran paramedic, who died last month after he re-enlisted in April four years after his retirement.

Rod Moore, from Falkirk, died aged 63 after contracting coronavirus. His funeral was due to take place during the royal visit.

After stopping in Edinburgh, the royal couple travelled to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, where they met pupils from Holy Trinity Church of England First School (pictured)

The Duke and Duchess (pictured) looked in high spirits as they left Holy Trinity Church of England First School on the second day of a three-day tour across the country

An SAS spokesman said: ‘I know that Rod’s family greatly appreciated the flowers sent on behalf of the Royal Family. It was a lovely gesture.’

The couple also made a particular point of thanking the cleaning staff at the unit, telling cleaner Ellen Reeder, 65, that she was ‘one of the most important people in the whole organisation, keeping everything together.’

Afterwards, Ms Reeder said: ‘It was such an honour for me to meet them. They kept it secret until this morning, which is just as well or I would have got tongue-tied speaking to them. 

‘That has really made my day. In fact, I think it has made everyone’s day here to get that appreciation from the Royals… I am a huge fan.’

There was a fun twist at lunchtime at the Holy Trinity First School in Berwick-upon-Tweed where, as a treat for the children, Kensington Palace arranged for Rent a Reindeer to bring three animals – Chaz, Crackers and her six-month-old calf Echols – to the school.

Kate and William also thanked teachers for their efforts to support learning during in recent months.

Local saxophone group The Earl Grey Saxes played Christmas tunes, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, as the school’s 175 pupils waved and sang as the royal couple arrived.

Some wore antlers on their heads and some were in Santa hats for the visit.

William and Kate sanitised their hands as they entered the school grounds, a short drive from the Berwick railway station.

The Duke, who donned a cosy tartan scarf for his visit to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, could be seen sharing a laugh with onlookers about the weather during the royal tour 

Meanwhile Kate beamed as she spoke with meets pupils wearing reindeer hairbands from Holy Trinity Church of England First School 

After the visit, headteacher Nicholas Shaw said: ‘It has been fantastic and the children loved it.

‘We feel honoured to have been chosen and appreciate they are taking the time to think about teachers and the work that has been going on in schools.

‘It has been a challenge during lockdown, a lot of new skills have been learned. We stayed open throughout for children of key workers and vulnerable children.’

Later, the couple travelled to northern England, where Kate met volunteers who have supported elderly members of their local community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic at Batley Community Centre

The Duchess recycled a navy Hobbs coat, first worn in February during a visit to Wales, for the visit, while the Duke wore an olive green scarf

During the couple’s visit to the community centre, Kate and William chatted with volunteers and locals who had been helped by the service (pictured, with local Len Gardner)

Rent a Reindeer owner George Richardson brought Chaz, Crackers and Echols for the visit, and told William and Kate about caring for them and how coronavirus had affected his business.

Mr Richardson, who is based in Cold Hesledon, County Durham, said the booking by the palace had been ‘top secret’.

He said: ‘We got a phone call out of the blue two weeks ago, they asked us to bring a reindeer for the royal visit and we were happy to oblige.

‘We brought these three as a group, although Chaz is not the dad … he is the uncle. Mum and baby go with him and they are a nice group.

‘This was baby’s first outing and she took it in her stride.’

William and Kate’s third stop was Batley Community Centre in West Yorkshire.

The Duke and Duchess’ final stop of the day was to FareShare in Manchester where they paid tribute to volunteers and organisations across the UK who have supported vulnerable families throughout 2020

The mother-of-three donned a cosy Christmas jumper with an Icelandic style knit for their final visit of the day in Manchester last night 

The duchess had swapped her blue Catherine Walker coat for a navy Hobbs cover-up, while William switched his tartan scarf for an olive green one for their arrival.

The couple met volunteers from the centre who have supported elderly members of the community throughout the pandemic by sending cards, having regular phone calls and dropping off shopping, food bags and activity packs.

William and Kate also met Len Gardner, a local resident with whom the duchess has been chatting on the phone after she secretly volunteered through the NHS Volunteer Responder Check In And Chat scheme.

The Duke and Duchess’ final stop of the day was to FareShare in Manchester where they paid tribute to volunteers and organisations across the UK who have supported vulnerable families throughout 2020. 

FareShare redistributes surplus food from food businesses to 11,000 charities and community groups in all four nations across the UK – including school breakfast clubs, community centres, homeless shelters and food banks. 

During the first national lockdown, the number of families relying on FareShare Greater Manchester for food nearly doubled overnight, and at the same time the charity was inundated with people offering to volunteer with them.  

During the visit in Manchester last night, Prince William (pictured) made a short speech to thank volunteers for all that they have done for their communities. Pictured, with the Duchess of Cambridge

Kate and Prince William (pictured) met with representatives from two charities who receive food from FareShare Greater Manchester and heard about the impact it had on the vulnerable families that they support

The royal couple heard from staff and volunteers about how FareShare Greater Manchester has adapted its operations to ensure it could continue supporting those in need throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured, visiting a food bank in Manchester 

During their visit, the Duke and Duchess – who changed into a patterned jumper – met representatives from the food industry to learn more about their generous support for FareShare. 

They then heard from staff and volunteers about how FareShare Greater Manchester has adapted its operations to ensure it could continue supporting those in need throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

They also met representatives from two charities who receive food from FareShare Greater Manchester and heard about the impact it had on the vulnerable families that they support. 

Later, the Duke made a short speech to thank volunteers for all that they have done for their communities, which will be broadcast live to additional FareShare’s members and organisations across the country via video call. 

During the visits, there was also a special performance by Wayne Ellington and Manchester Inspirational Voices, presented by Band on the Wall, a local independent music venue which has been supported during COVID-19 by the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. 

Following a day of engagements, the official Kensington Royal Instagram account shared a picture of the royals alongside a caption which read: ‘Where to next?’ 

The whirlwind 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.’

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

It is believed the trip is Kate’s first official journey by royal train, despite having been a member of the monarchy for almost a decade, while the duke has used it a number of times.

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

Ahead of their trip, 10-year-old British artist, Joe Whale – known as The Doodle Boy, 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’ visit are also set to 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 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.   

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