The Duchess of Cambridge visited a garden center near her country home in Norfolk as the royal family shows how Britain is trying to get back to a new normal

By Simon Perry
June 19, 2020 08:15 AM
Advertisement
Kate Middleton at Fakenham garden center
PA Images

Kate Middleton stepped out on her first solo public engagement since the U.K. lockdown began in mid-March.

The royal mom of three visited a garden center at Fakenham near her country home, Anmer Hall, where she has been living with Prince William, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate's outing on Thursday emerged as William, who celebrates his 38th birthday on Sunday, also went to a bakery in nearby King's Lynn. The royal duo made the visits to help boost local businesses which have reopened in the last few days in the wake of the coronavirus.

At the garden center, Kate met the owners and staff and heard about the measures that they have had to take to enable the business to safely reopen. The family business was closed for seven weeks before reopening on May 15.

PA Images

For his part, William headed to Smiths the Bakers early on Friday. At the bakery, which has been serving King's Lynn for 50 years and reopened on June 15 after 11 weeks of closure, William spoke to members of staff about how the coronavirus restrictions have impacted on the family-run business.

Prince William at the bakery in King's Lynn
PA Images

And he was told how the business had to furlough a number of staff members but also how it adapted its business model during lockdown by operating a delivery service to local residents. It has also been selling new lines of products to meet the demand for baking ingredients such as flour and sugar.

The Duchess of Cambridge's last public outing was on March 19, when she joined William on a visit to a call center run by the London Ambulance Service in Croydon, south London, to provide a morale boost for key healthcare workers.

PA Images

On Friday, Queen Elizabeth also heralded the re-start of many businesses and shops, when she wrote a letter sending "warmest wishes" to those re-opening and praising the ways they have supported the "health sector or vulnerable communities" through the crisis.

Earlier this week, William went on his first official public outing to an ambulance station to honor emergency workers who have been helping others amid the last few difficult months.

The prince visited an ambulance base at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, not far from the Sandringham estate, and his home, Anmer Hall. William wanted to thank the essential workers "for their work and dedication responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and to hear more about their experiences over the past few months," his office at Kensington Palace said.

With the coronavirus pandemic changing the way everyone works, the royal mom of three has been conducting most of her duties via video calls. On Thursday, Kate led a virtual lesson for the Oak National Academy — an online classroom and resource hub created by teachers — focused on mental well-being and simple acts of kindness during the difficult time of lockdown.

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

"Today, I wanted to talk to you about the importance of being kind and looking after one other," Kate said to kick off the virtual meeting. "We all have our ups and downs especially when things change in our lives as they have in so many ways recently."

And she was immensely impressed by Olivia Jackson, 8, who paid tribute to healthcare workers by baking a cake that was filled with Smarties in the center, causing the candies to tumble out when the cake was cut.

"No way, that's ingenious," Princess Kate exclaimed. "Good idea!"