Flowers and flour for Kate and William’s royal visits in Norfolk

  • Watch a video of the visit of the Duchess of Cambridge to a garden centre

The Duchess of Cambridge revealed the majority of her trips outside her home have been to shop for food, as she carried out her first public engagement since lockdown began.

Kate toured Fakenham Garden Centre near her Norfolk home of Anmer Hall yesterday and as a keen gardener wanted to learn how the coronavirus outbreak had affected the family-run independent business.

The Duchess of Cambridge visited a garden centre, The Duke a local bakery Credit: PA

The Duchess told owners Martin and Jennie Turner she loved visitng garden centres with her three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

"They love it," she said with a smile, adding: "It's such a great space forchildren and families to come to garden centres. I've been food shopping but I have to say I haven't been out a huge amount more but it's good and so important, now as things start to ease, people know they can go out and particularly to places like this."

In her first public engagement since lockdown, The Duchess chats to staff. Credit: PA

Kate also said she and William had found the social effects of the pandemicunsettling: "When we do our food shopping we notice that everyone keeps their head down and it's hard for that social interaction."

She also revealed that George loved to play with Venus flytrap plants at garden centres, and while at home the three children have been growing tomato plants.

The Duchess chatting to Martin and Jennie Turner, owners of the Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk Credit: PA

Mr Turner told her about some of the difficulties his garden centre, in Fakenham near King's Lynn, had faced over the last three months.

"This has been the most challenging thing we've ever experienced. Wecompletely shut until after Easter and then we opened for some collections and deliveries in the car park. We have 50 staff and we had to furlough around 15 due to closing the coffee shop and family members shielding or childcare issues. Four or five people have very unfortunately had to be made redundant, as going forward we can't sustain them."

But once they started to trade again three weeks ago, he said people had been keen to buy plants.

The family business in Fakenham was closed for 7 weeks during lockdown. Credit: PA

The Duchess of Cambridge also met garden workers Michaela Giura, 35, from Norwich, and Tobias Davies, 47.

She asked if they were glad to be back - smiling in agreement when they asked if she was too.

"It's good to get a structure and a routine back isn't it?"

The Duke of Cambridge chats to owners Paul and Teresa. Credit: PA

Kate's trip to the garden centre was followed by the Duke of Cambridge visiting Smiths the Bakers in King's Lynn's on Friday (19 June).

The Duke of Cambridge joked that his three children have been "attacking the kitchen" during lockdown as he visited the small family run bakery which serves the Queen's Sandringham Estate.

The Duke heard how Smiths the Bakers, which has been trading since 1971, was managing during the pandemic.

Paul Brandon, who runs the bakery business with his wife Teresa, told the duke that he had read that he had done some baking during lockdown.

"I've done a little bit of baking," William said. "The children have been attacking the kitchen and it's just been an explosion of flour and chocolate everywhere. Catherine's been doing quite a bit of baking."

The bakery opened this week after 11 weeks of closure during lockdown. Credit: PA

The business ran a home-delivery service while its shop was closed.

William heard how most of the Norfolk bakery's business comes from wholesale, including to schools which closed during lockdown, but is now starting to see customers return to the shop.

"The important thing is that shops like yours can get the footfall back inagain and the High Street and town feel like it's getting a little bit more backto normal," the Duke said. "Because I think everyone's just been, you know, it's like they've just been in a daze.They don't quite know what to make of it all."

William heard how the bakery's products currently have to be sealed withplastic film.

"It's a shame because we were doing quite well on the anti-plastic and thenthis comes along and we have to protect the food. It's heartbreaking," hesaid.

The bakery presented the Duke with a cake ahead of his birthday on Sunday. Credit: PA

The bakery presented the Duke with a vanilla sponge cake with white icing,cream and jam ahead of his 38th birthday on Sunday.

It had the message "Happy Birthday Prince William from all at Smiths theBakers" piped in blue icing on the top, and was decorated with iced footballboots, footballs and Union flags.

He was also given a loaf of Norfolk crunch bread and a jar of Sandringham loose tea.

The Duke picked up some pain au chocolat during the visit. Credit: PA

In a lighter moment, he joked: "I was saying the other day about how I'm worried about the waistline of the nation. I think we've all eaten so many cakes and chocolate.

"All the NHS team, they're so grateful, all the local communities have been giving them loads and loads of sweets and chocolate, which is great for them.

"They must be enormous now and brushing their teeth five times a day, with the amount of sugar."

The Duke leaving the bakery carrying his birthday cake! Credit: PA

After the Duke left, Mr Brandon said: "He's a very pleasant guy. It's very nice of him to come and see us.

"Being as he lives only down the road, to think he's taken an interest in his local town and his local businesses, that's good."

  • Video of the Duke of Cambridge visiting the Smiths the Bakers in King's Lynn

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