At their long 40-minute walkabout outside Windsor Castle on Saturday, the new Prince of Wales opened up to one well-wisher in the crowd about his family, including their three children: Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4. Elaine Gee, 58, a teacher from Wokingham, spoke to William about the difficulty in explaining the Queen's death to her primary school pupils.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Prince William and Kate Middleton with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis
"I told him how I work at a school and how it's been a strange year celebrating the Jubilee and now it's all changed and we are talking about this," Gee told PEOPLE. "He spoke about George, Charlotte and Louis, saying that they were trying to keep some sense of continuity for them at school and keep things as normal as possible."
Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Prince William at Windsor Castle
Gee, who was visiting Windsor from Wokingham with her husband Rob, 62, also met Kate, telling her how impressed she was with their professional nature during their time of grief.
"Catherine thanked me, and she said that all the nation were feeling it," she says. "They were both very kind and gentle and genuine. It was very special — definitely a moment I will always treasure."
Monique Jessen Elaine and Rob Gee at Windsor Castle
Prince William and Kate, both 40, were joined on the walkabout by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after William invited the California-based couple to the outing in a rare moment of unity after many months of tension between the two couples.
All dressed in black, the two couples spent time speaking to hundreds of mourners outside the historic castle, all there to pay their respects to the late Queen who died peacefully at Balmoral in Scotland on Thursday, many of them leaving flowers and emotional messages of condolence.
Kirsty O'Connor/AP/Shutterstock Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle
Meghan, 41, and Harry, 37, who arrived separately from Kate and William but left in the same car (with William at the wheel), walked on one side of the crowd while Kate and William mainly worked the other side, leaving little opportunity for interaction.
One member of the public said he was surprised but delighted to meet Meghan. Sanj Chowdhri, 46 from Windsor said: "She shook my hand and said it was really nice of us to come and support the family, she was very gracious," while his wife Minal Chowdhri, 43 said: "We didn't expect this, it's been surreal!"
Monique Jessen Debbie and Rupert Fowler with Sanj and Minal Chowdhri at Windsor Castle
Debbie Fowler, 47, who was with her husband Robert Fowler, 56, said it was lovely to hear them chatting with everyone. William even called Kate over to stroke a nearby dog.
"It was amazing, they were so personable," she says. "Somebody gave William a pot plant, and he said he was going to plant it. And they were talking about people's dogs, and Will called Kate over to stroke one near us. They are in mourning, and yet they were so lovely to everyone."
Another couple — Cheryl Young, 38, and Stephen Young, 43, who had travelled from Preston with their 2-year-old daughter, Eleanor — were delighted to personally hand over a bouquet of flowers to Kate.
Cheryl said it was an emotional moment: "It was magical and very surreal. I'm actually shaking from the overwhelming atmosphere. Kate said how all the messages were so wonderful to see."
Monique Jessen Stephen Young at Windsor Castle
All four royals accepted flowers and thanked everyone for their support. When one well-wisher told Kate it was almost like the Queen had been the nation's grandmother, she responded by nodding her head.
"Yes, I know she will be missed by so many, and it's lovely to see the outpouring of love from people of all ages here today," Kate said. "It's hugely touching to see."
Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images
The event was the first appearance for Kate in her new role as the Princess of Wales, a title she inherited when King Charles formerly announced during his first speech to the nation on Friday that William would now become The Prince of Wales.
The title, unlike that of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and their other titles, is not inherited automatically but is traditionally given to the heir apparent.