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Watch: Prince William and Kate visit students at Cardiff Castle
The Prime Minister’s office has backtracked after appearing to distance itself from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s royal train tour as the couple travel around the country thanking key workers and meeting people impacted by the pandemic.
Prince William and Kate are on the third day of their whistle-stop tour, which has seen them cross the borders into Scotland and Wales as they met people involved in the response to the coronavirus situation.
Having suggested the trip was a “matter for the palace”, Boris Johnson has now welcomed the “morale boost” of the three-day tour.
A No 10 spokesman said: “The PM is delighted to see the warm reception the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have received on their hugely valuable train tour of England, Scotland and Wales.
“The tour will be a welcome morale boost to frontline workers who have done so much during the pandemic.”
They faced a less than warm welcome by the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, while Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething suggested he would have preferred if they hadn’t been visiting Cardiff.
Asked about whether Boris Johnson shared the concerns about the travel William and Kate, both 38, had undertaken, the Prime Minister’s spokesman earlier said: “That is obviously a matter for the palace and I would point you towards them.
“But we set out clearly the tiers and the advice around the current guidelines that we are asking the public to abide by.”
Asked about whether the couple had complied with the rules during the trip, the spokesman said: “I’m making the general point that we have set out the regionalised tier system that is now in place and the guidance that we are asking people to abide by.”
Royal sources had previously said the trip was planned with the cooperation of all devolved nations and their governments.
Sources have also pointed out the couple is working and therefore able to travel within the current guidelines.
The couple has been seen in face coverings at various points on the tour, though haven’t worn them at some of the outdoor venues.
Prince William caught coronavirus in the Spring, but the news of his diagnosis remained secret for several months.
Gething, the Welsh health minister, said on Tuesday morning as the couple arrived in Cardiff, that he did not want the trip to be seen as an excuse by others not to follow the rules.
He told BBC Radio 4: “I’d rather that no-one was having unnecessary visits, and people always have divisive views about the monarchy, but their visit isn’t an excuse for people to say that they are confused about what they are being asked to do.
“I’m not particularly bothered or interested because I don’t think that is going to be an excuse for people to say: ‘I should go and behave in a different way and I should act as if the harm that is being seen in front of us in every part of our healthcare system is not taking place’.”
And Sturgeon said the trip had gone ahead despite the palace being informed of various travel restrictions.
She said: “The royal visit is a matter for the royal household and the arrangements around it, and any questions about those arrangements, should be directed to the royal household.
“The Scottish Government was advised about the intention to visit, and we made sure that the royal household were aware, as you would expect, of all of the restrictions in place in Scotland, so that could inform both the decision and the planning of the visit.
“But I think any questions about that should be directed to the royal household.”
The comment from Number 10 comes soon after two government ministers voiced their support for the trip.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said it was “wonderful” that they were in Wales, while the Welsh secretary Simon Hart said it was “great” to see the couple in the capital city of Cardiff.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to Bath and then Berkshire after their trip to Wales on Tuesday.
Their tour included a visit to the Royal Berkshire Hospital where the duchess was born.
Graham Sims, chairman of Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, told her: “Welcome back.”
They met some of the staff at the hospital and enjoyed music from steel drum players.
William and Kate were shown a badge designed by lead nurse Rafael Fernandes and funded by NHS Charities Together to mark the year of the Nurse and Midwife in 2020. William and Kate were announced as joint patrons of NHS Charities Together on Monday.
The couple also went to Cleeve Court Care Home in Twerton, Bath, where they met some of the residents and the carers.
The visit took place outside but the couple waved to some of those who stayed inside.
The tour will finish later on Tuesday.