The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on a 1,250-mile Royal Train journey around Britain thanking key workers and paying tribute to communities amid the COVID-19 crisis

Kate Middleton and Prince William rolled into Cardiff, the capital of Wales, early on Tuesday as they continued their 1,250-mile journey across Britain aboard the Royal Train.

The couple slept – in their separate beds – in a peaceful siding somewhere between Manchester and the Welsh-English border so they could arrive fresh and ready for another tour day of meeting and thanking those who have helped communities through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

They spent the morning focusing on the welfare of students and how they have been supported in their mental health as they faced the unique challenges of the last nine months.

prince william, kate middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty
prince william, kate middleton
Kate Middleton
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

William and Kate arrived at Cardiff Castle shortly before 9.30 a.m, walking down a path adorned with huge Alice in Wonderland figures, and received a lively welcome from the Samba Galez band. Kate wore a festive red coat from her wedding dress designer Alexander McQueen.

Heading over to the hot chocolate stall within a mini-Christmas market, the couple met with some Cardiff University students. Moving on, they chatted to another group as they roasted marshmallows — William burned his because he was so engaged in the conversation!

The royal parents asked the students how they were making arrangements for their family Christmases.

“They said it’s hard to make plans with all the guidelines and they were trying to work out what the safest plans were for them,” Lily Faulkner, 21, a Cardiff University politics and international relations student tells PEOPLE. “They are great mental health advocates. When you struggle with your mental health and are lonely and you hear that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are supporting you, and what you’re going through, it is uplifting.”

prince william, kate middleton
Kate Middleton talking with students in Cardiff
| Credit: CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty

Before they left, they traded Secret Santa gifts with a group from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Luke Wilson, 19, a PE and sports health student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, got William a Guinness coaster set. The students had a $7 cost limit. Kate was handed a Welsh lovespoon – a wooden carved memento of Wales – by sports coaching student Gwennan Lewis, 20.

prince william, kate middleton
Kate Middleton looks at her secret Santa gift from students
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

Cardiff Castle is a 2,000-year-old historic site that features Rapunzel-worthy towers and opulent interiors. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry paid a memorable visit to the castle in January 2018, as Meghan was being introduced to the British public ahead of their royal wedding.

Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Visit Cardiff Castle
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry outside Cardiff Castle in 2018

On Monday, William and Kate highlighted the volunteers who have helped provide food to those in need in Manchester, teachers who kept schools and teaching going through the early lockdowns in the north of England and the carers who looked out for the elderly in Batley, West Yorkshire.

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As they have passed through towns and cities, the royal parents have also helped spread some pre-Christmas cheer, joining in with a class of kids learning about reindeer – starring real-life animals! – and being serenaded at Euston station by a festive pop song from Shakin’ Stevens.

More surprises are in store for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and those they visit as they head back through England from south Wales on Tuesday. The couple and their staff are keeping each stop secret so as not to attract crowds amid concerns about social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions.