Crowds turn out to welcome Prince and Princess of Wales to Queen's Sandringham Estate

  • Watch the Prince and Princess of Wales' visit to Sandringham

Thousands of well-wishers welcomed the Prince and Princess of Wales to the Queen's Sandringham Estate, as Prince William told crowds that walking behind his grandmother’s coffin had brought back memories of his mother Diana’s funeral.

The couple arrived shortly before 12.30pm and immediately began reading the cards and messages left on the thousands of bouquets of flowers left in memory of the Queen.

They then moved to meet and greet mourners at the historic royal estate in west Norfolk, where thousands of people had gathered behind barriers lined up along the road.

The couple later thanked the crowds for having turned out.

Receptionist Jane Wells, 54, of Long Sutton in Lincolnshire, said: “I said how proud his mother would have been of him, and he said how hard it was yesterday because it brought back memories of his mother’s funeral.”

Caroline Barwick-Walters, 66, of Neath in Wales, said: “He told us how difficult it was yesterday, how it brought back memories of walking behind his mother’s coffin.”

She said she told the prince “thank you for sharing your grief with the nation”, and that he replied “she was everybody’s grandmother”.

Pupils from Howard Junior School in King's Lynn with the Princess of Wales. Credit: PA

Gregory Hill, headteacher of Howard Junior School in King’s Lynn, was with a group of children aged seven to nine, and he said that William and Kate noticed a Paddington Bear tribute they had made.

“It’s got our same logo on the badge as our school uniform and they both commented about that,” he said.

The Princess of Wales then invited eight-year-old Elizabeth Sulkovska to walk with her to place a corgi teddy and a bouquet of flowers among the tributes.

A pupil at Howard Junior School places flowers with the Princess. Credit: PA

“Elizabeth was overwhelmed, she cried with joy at being chosen,” said Mr Hill. “It’s just a wonderful, amazing opportunity.”

He said that the Queen’s death had “touched a young generation as well”, adding: “The older generation obviously knew the Queen for longer but young children that haven’t experienced the Queen for long on the throne still are greatly moved by her passing, and really want to do their best to celebrate her life and legacy and never forget her.”

Elizabeth said she was “very happy” to have placed the tributes with the princess.

The Princess of Wales greeted the well-wishers, some of whom had waited hours. Credit: PA

Karen Anvil, who took a photo of the so-called Fab Four of William and Kate and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Christmas Day in 2017, was in the crowd again.

She said that as she was speaking to William she was “just chatting away and I just said ‘I’m so sorry, I’m such a chatterer’.”

“He said ‘I love chatterers’,” said Ms Anvil, 44 from Watlington in Norfolk.

“So technically the Prince of Wales has told me he loved me today. That’s what I’m going to take from it.”

A sea of flowers, cards and toys has been left at the Norwich Gates, building steadily since last Thursday.

The flowers now stretch from the Norwich Gates and along the verge bordering the estate. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Nearly an hour before the royals' expected arrival, hundreds of people had already turned out to mass behind barriers opposite the gates, a number which swiftly grew to thousands.

Norfolk Police warned that an "increasing number" of people were expected and that officers were managing a one-way system around the estate.

For the prince and princess, the visit was a return to an area of the country they know well, having used the Anmer Hall mansion on the Sandringham Estate as their country retreat for many years.

In the days after the Queen's death, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex greeted mourners and viewed floral tributes to the late Queen at Windsor Castle.

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