Duke & Duchess' Royal Train

Duke and Duchess set off on royal train tour to thank key workers

Duke and Duchess at Euston Station
Photos: PA News

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have set off across the country by royal train to thank communities, outstanding individuals and key workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The duke and duchess, who wore face masks, set off on Sunday evening from London’s Euston station on a 1,250-mile, three-day tour, which will see them thank communities, outstanding individuals and key workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

During the event, William told Orson Parris, a network traffic controller for Transport for London: “Fingers crossed 2021 gets things back to normal.”

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Duke and Duchess set off on royal train tour to thank key workers

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The duke and duchess are expected to meet the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at their final stop.

Christmas send-off for Duke and Duchess

Before The duke and duchess boarded the service, Shakin’ Stevens, 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 the royal couple as the song they wanted to hear and during the performance the duchess tapped her foot and swayed to the music.

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The first stop for the duke and duchess has not been disclosed, but Stevens, said his performance had been his first for royalty. The 72-year-old performer said: “I’m loving it, it was lovely to be invited.”

He added that the couple were “certainly fans” of his festive hit, adding: “They picked it!”

Before climbing on board the service, the duke and duchess spent time chatting to staff from Transport for London (TfL), Network Rail and train operating companies about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic.

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On behalf of the nation, they passed on their thanks for everything they have done to keep trains in London running and the measures taken to ensure passengers could travel safely with confidence.

William 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.”

The couple appeared shocked to hear from London Overground driver Glyn Smith about how he had managed to avoid hitting a young child on the line in June.

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“You saved his life?” the duke asked. “How fast were you going at the time?”

Mr Smith told them he was driving at around 20mph, adding: “It could have been so much worse.”

“Well done,” the duke said. “Very impressive.”

Duke and Duchess set off on royal train tour to thank key workers

Network Rail staff altered the departure boards for the occasion, changing Wolverhampton to Warmerhampton, Coventry to Coventry Carol and Northampton to Northpolehamton.

Along the way, the duke and duchess will highlight the impact of extraordinary public generosity during the coronavirus pandemic, showcasing charities such as NHS Together and meeting frontline workers, teachers, mental health professionals, care workers and schoolchildren.

They will also celebrate examples of community spirit by showcasing the arts, heritage and the live performance sector.

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Sam Hewitt

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