The first day of the Duke and Duchess’ country-wide tour saw them stop in Manchester to visit the food distribution charity. William and Kate are taking the Royal Train in a 1,250 mile journey to pay tribute to frontline workers and “heroes” for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. William and Kate have been front and centre for the Royal Family during the pandemic, and have thrown their support behind charities.
Monday’s leg of the Cambridge’s tour saw them end the day in Manchester, meeting with volunteer workers at FareShare in New Smithfield Market.
Speaking to the volunteers, William and Kate lavished praise on the workers for their efforts distributing food to those in need during the pandemic.
The Duke said: “Catherine and I felt that it was extremely important to visit just some of the heroes that have emerged this year to thank you for all that you have done. (…)
“You are the people that have not only kept our country going but have also helped warm all our hearts by showing us the very best of human nature.”
READ MORE: Kate and Prince William caught in rare display of affection ahead of whirlwind tour
The Duke and Duchess spoke to FareShare workers from a warehouse, with their comments live-streamed to the charity’s workers across the country.
FareShare distributes surplus food to 11,000 charities and community groups across the UK, including food banks.
During the UK’s first nationwide lockdown from March to June, the charity saw nearly double Greater Manchester families rely on them.
FareShare also saw volunteers offering help surge during the same time period.
Monday also saw the royals travel to Edinburgh at the start of the day, with the couple heading to Newbridge ambulance response station to meet with first responders.
William and Kate met with first responders, with local paramedic Alistair Matson telling the royals about his father dying from coronavirus.
He said to Edinburgh Live: “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 camaraderie 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.”
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, refused to answer questions on whether she attempted to stop the royals from visiting, after Professor Devi Sridhar, one of Nicola Sturgeon’s key scientific coronavirus advisors, blasted William and Kate for their visit.
The chair of global public health at Edinburgh University tweeted: “Love it here but some things I will never understand about Britain. Aren’t we all in a pandemic & living under travel restrictions?”
Ms Sturgeon refused to be drawn into the controversy, and said: “The royal visit is a matter for the royal household and the arrangements around it and any questions about those arrangements should be directed to the royal household.
“The Scottish Government was advised about the intention to visit, and we made sure that the royal household were aware, as you would expect, of all of the restrictions in place in Scotland so that could inform both the decision and the planning of the visit.”
Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, however praised William and Kate for their visit to Manchester, as the couple also highlighted arts and live performance industry.
He said: “It is wonderful news that Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been able to visit Manchester today to see the positive impact that culture has on our communities.
“Throughout the pandemic, organisations across the country have stepped up to support those in need and our choirs, bands, actors, film makers, museums – and the technical crews that support them – are no different.
“Cultural and heritage organisations across the country have brought us joy and happiness online, on television and on our mobile phones by creating cultural content we can enjoy safely.”