Kate Middleton Returning to Royal Duties with Visit to Afghanistan Evacuation Teams

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Karwai Tang/WireImage Kate Middleton at Wimbledon - 10th July 2021

Kate Middleton fans have their wish — she is set to step back out in public.

Kate's slated to visit an air force base on Wednesday to thank servicemen and women and others who helped in the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan last month.

Following her long summer break from public duties, it will be the first time the Duchess of Cambridge has been seen in public for more than two months — when she attended the Wimbledon tennis championships final and the final of the European soccer championships with Prince William and Prince George on July 11.

At the weekend, she and William, both 39, and their children — George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3 — headed to the south east of France to celebrate her brother James Middleton's wedding to financial analyst Alizée Thevenet.

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On Wednesday at RAF Brize Norton, Kate is set to talk with some of those who took part in the mammoth humanitarian effort which saw 15,000 people jetted out of Kabul airport by the Royal Air Force in the wake of the Taliban's takeover. It was the largest humanitarian aid operation in more than 70 years, and Brize Norton became one of the main hubs for entry to the U.K.

kate middleton
kate middleton

Karwai Tang/WireImage Kate Middleton and Michael Middleton on July 11

Kate is set to meet RAF air crew and medics who supported evacuees at Kabul airport, to the civilians and volunteers who established a Repatriation Centre at the base, providing key supplies and support on their arrival into the U.K. Evacuees were given food, clothing, children's toys, medical support, and childcare and sanitary products whilst their details were processed.

More than 850 people of the 15,000 who were flown out by the British arrived at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire over the course of the two weeks to August 28. In that time, the full fleet of RAF transport aircraft from RAF Brize Norton flew around the clock to support the evacuation. It included a record flight for an RAF C17 Globemaster which took 439 passengers out of Kabul on a single flight. Aircraft involved in the operation also carried urgent supplies from clothing to baby food.

Kate's visit comes after it emerged that William stepped in to help ensure an Afghan army officer and his family were able to leave Kabul in the exodus. The prince is understood to have known the man — who has not been named — after training alongside him at Sandhurst Military Academy in 2006. And when he heard of the man's plight amid the anxious residents hoping to get to, and through, Kabul airport before the withdrawal of the American and allied forces, William moved to help, and his staff alerted the troops on the ground.

royals
royals

Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Princess Charlotte, Kate Middleton, Prince George and Prince William

With the new school year having started last week, Kate and William are now much freer to conduct public duties and have a series of outings planned for the coming weeks — and they are well set to do so, complementing each other perfectly, one of their former aides tells the current PEOPLE Royals.

"They are bringing to the party different means of achieving the whole. He has the experience of knowing where the institution sits and seeing it evolve," says Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton. "The Duchess brings this pragmatic awareness of what it's like to be from a decent, down-to-earth family."