The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge highlighted the importance of a sense of self and belonging with young kids at a boxing club in Port Talbot

By Simon Perry and Conchita Margaret Widjojo
February 04, 2020 04:20 PM
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Kate Middleton and Prince William received the royal treatment at a boxing club in south Wales on Tuesday.

During their visit to Bulldogs Boxing & Community Activities and Port Talbot Amateur Boxing, the Duchess of Cambridge, 38, made such an impression on 6-year-old Brooke that the young girl insisted on giving the royal couple a tour, taking the place of the chosen chaperone — one of the coaches at the community club — to the delight of the royal mom of three.

“She decided she wanted to be Their Royal Highnesses’ guide. She took the duchess to see where she does coloring and pointed out the outside space we have,” Samantha Fox, project manager at Bulldogs Boxing and Community Activities in Port Talbot, tells PEOPLE. “She did a great job at it.”

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Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton
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Kate and Brooke participated in a team-building game called Gutterball, where participants have to coordinate and work together to get a ball to move along a line of gutters and into a box. However, when that concluded and it was time for Kate and William to move on to the next part of their visit, that was when little Brooke took her willing charge.

As their last stop for the day, William and Kate attended to an initiative that supports young people who have faced tough childhood experiences and mental health challenges. Despite a proud industrial past, the area has been hit by ongoing economic challenges and deprivation after the contraction of the steel industry over the last 30 years.

Kate Middleton
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The community boxing group helps kids gain confidence and fitness through sport and also provides games and support for “looked-after children” and those who have been referred to them by family doctors to help tackle issues like children’s anxiety.

After bumping fists with their gloved hands, Kate spoke with some of the kids, occasionally placing her hand on their shoulder or stroking their upper arm sympathetically, while she and William asked the children questions about their background.

“She engaged so well with them,” Fox adds. “One of our young people hadn’t been out of the family home for three years before coming here and taking part. There are a lot of people with anxiety but they made them feel relaxed and so at ease.”

Kate Middleton
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She also mentioned the royal couple were helping break down barriers in talking about mental health, especially in deprived and challenged areas like industrial South Wales.

“They are amazing. People need to speak out more about it. There is a taboo still and people still find it hard to talk about or understand,” she shares. “It’s fantastic that they are bringing awareness to it. They are coming into communities like this and meeting people — some of whom have real issues like anxiety or young people who may self harm. They are here today doing the exercises and joining in with the young people on their level.”

Kate Middleton
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Soon after arriving at the boxing club, Prince William spoke to a boy about channeling his anger the right way. “I have got anger issues and this has helped me with losing my anger,” Logan Golding, 14, tells PEOPLE. “When I am in a situation and I want to fight, this has helped me not to be aggressive at those times,” Logan explained afterwards.

Logan has suffered a series of tragedies as he lost his father Darren last year and grandfather and personal trainer in recent years. “It’s important to train it off,” William said. “We all have to learn the tricks of how to deal with [anger].”

Coach Simon Warren says, “He was interested in how the boys got into the sport and what it’s done for them. Some were saying it has helped channel their aggression. Some of them come from challenging backgrounds and this has also helped them improve at school.”

Prince William
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William kept looking over his shoulder, hankering after getting into the ring to have a go. The royal pair shared a laugh as they talked to the group of boys. “He was asking about the skill sets needed to take part,” Warren adds. “And [Kate] said ‘I think he’s secretly keen on doing it.’”

On the way out, the couple were given mini boxing gloves for their three children, Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, who will turn 2 in April.

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“Thank you so much. Love these, brilliant. George is already eyeing up the punchbag . . . start them young,” a delighted Prince William said.

And the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge didn’t miss out, as they received a set of gloves too — and some pads used for sparring — for when William ever gets his wish to get in the ring!

During their visit, William and Kate also spent time at a local lifeboat station, ate ice cream at Joe’s Ice Cream Parlour and mingled with residents from local businesses and organizations.