All aboard for the Kate Middleton Country Tour: The inaugural trip kicked off Sunday bound for the princess-in-waiting’s home town of Bucklebury, featuring the font she was baptized in, her grade schools, village homes and even the pub where she and Prince William have been spotting drinking.
The host for this trip, set up by local tour operator Morton’s Travel, is Charmian Griffiths, who has her Blue Badge Guide qualifications and 10 years of guiding experience.
Addressing the 23 gathered journalists and nine, mostly elderly, day trippers, Griffiths holds up a picture. “The lovely couple,” she announces, and off the tour speeds – for just 10 a seat.
The driver (Ed) navigates navigates through Tidmarsh, towards the first stop, St. Andrews Prep School, where “Middleton received much of her essential education,” Griffiths says. The tour passes the school, but can’t stop because it is on private property.
Instead, the bus carries on to Bradfield and past the grade school Kate attended and the village she first lived. Griffiths and Ed look for the house. “Is it that one?” she asks. “Possibly,” he replies, glancing to the left. Before there is time to work it out, the conversation turns to sheep: “The origin of England’s wealth!” says Griffiths triumphantly.
By the time the bus reaches the The Old Boot Inn in Stanford Dingley, tour-goers are happy to get out and stretch our legs. Griffiths reveals that “the couple have been known to drink here.”
Griffiths leads on to St. Andrews church in Bradfield, where Kate was baptized, then on towards the Middleton’s current home. “If you keep your eyes to your right – Oak Acre, the Middleton’s present residence is just visible straight through the trees,” she says, peering up the road. Since it is winter, the bare branches give a decent peek of the house.
“It’s great fun,” Griffiths says of the tour, which hits Downe House School and turns around at the Marlborough School. “But I was already fairly hooked in because I’m a great royalist.”
Tour bus regular Hilda Hewlett isn’t so fanatical: “She seems lovely,” she says of Kate. “I loved Lady Di. And William, he’s nice, handsome and down to earth. I wouldn’t mind him for my grandson. But I come on the trips because we haven’t got a car, so it’s nice to get out.”
Kate Middleton Country Tours are set to run weekly in the coming months.