Friday, 30 September, 2022

William and Kate thank funeral volunteers in Windsor

The Prince and Princess of Wales have visited Windsor to thank volunteers and staff who helped support crowds on the day of the Queen's funeral.

Thousands had lined the streets to see the Queen's hearse make its way to Windsor Castle, with Catherine saying it was "amazing" how many were there.

She and Prince William were making their first appearance since the Queen was laid to rest on Monday.

The Royal Family is observing an extended period of mourning.

In the visit to Windsor's Guildhall, the prince and princess thanked those who supported the large crowds that gathered to watch the procession of the Queen's coffin on her final journey to the castle, where a committal service was held.

Prince William asked staff: "How difficult was Monday? How challenging was it?"

He later said: "It's been a busy few days but you guys have been doing long hours as well, so thank you so much."

The princess asked if many of those in the crowd were from Windsor itself, with Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead ambassadors replying that people had travelled from across the world.

She said: "It's amazing how many people wanted to come and pay their respects."

The royal couple also spoke to Windsor Castle staff who helped to organise floral tributes. The prince and princess heard an estimated 100,000 were laid in Windsor.

"The spotlight was on Windsor and it looked incredible so well done," the princess said.

About 900 stewards helped manage crowds in Windsor, which numbered at 103,00, according to the local authority.

Maureen Stannard, 66, a Royal Borough ambassador was tasked with supporting the crowds on the Long Walk.

She said: "On the day we expected the crowd to be that big, but we didn't expect so many to be there so early."

Ms Stannard said the princess told her that volunteers played a vital role.

On Monday, the nation paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II - Britain's longest reigning monarch - at a state funeral service at Westminster Abbey in London and the committal service at St George's Chapel in Windsor.

The Queen was then laid to rest in a private burial service alongside her husband the late Duke of Edinburgh.

The walkabout came after Prince William spoke of his late grandmother in a video released on Wednesday to promote the environmental competition he founded, the Earthshot Prize.

In the virtual message broadcast to people gathered for an Earthshot summit in New York, he said: "During this time of grief, I take great comfort in your continued enthusiasm, optimism and commitment to the Earthshot Prize and what we are trying to achieve.

"Protecting the environment was a cause close to my grandmother's heart. And I know she would have been delighted to hear about this event."

The awards ceremony for the £50m global environmental competition is set to take place in Boston, United States, in December.

Following the national period of mourning, which ended after the funeral, the Royal Family is continuing mourning for the Queen until Monday.

During this time, members of the Royal Family are not expected to carry out official engagements, and flags at royal residences remain at half-mast until 08:00 BST on Tuesday.

The Princess Royal -Princess Anne - has also been on a visit to thank those involved in Monday's services. She visited Portsmouth Naval Base and St Omer Barracks, Aldershot, to speak to members of the Royal Navy involved in the funeral.

The Earl of Wessex - Prince Edward - will visit Estonia and Germany to thank the armed forces for their service to the Queen as their commander-in-chief, and their commitment to the King as head of the armed forces.