Duchess of Cambridge reveals what Cambridge children have been up to during lockdown in first public engagement in months

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis have been growing tomato plants and “attacking the kitchen” during lockdown according to their parents.

The Duchess of Cambridge made her first public engagement in months on Thursday afternoon, visiting Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk, where she revealed her children have picked up her love of gardening.

She told staff her children love going to garden centres, saying: “They love it, it’s such a great space for children and families to come to garden centres.”

She told of how they have been growing tomato plants, adding: “They were very excited to grow them from seeds and now they’re as tall as them.”

George, six, also loves to play with venus flytrap plants at garden centres, Kate said.

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to Martin and Jennie Turner, owners of the Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk, during her first public engagement since lockdown. (PA images)
Kate spoke to the owners about the difficulties they had during lockdown. (Getty Images)

The Duke of Cambridge made his second in-person engagement on Friday morning, as he visited a local bakery in King’s Lynn.

While there, he said: “I’ve done a little bit of baking.

“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.”

She told them about how much her children like gardening. (Getty Images)
The duchess wore a sleeveless, padded jacket by Swedish brand Fjällräven. (Getty Images)

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Kate, 38, is a keen gardener, and last year designed and built a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show.

At the centre, she spoke to owners Martin and Jennie Turner about how the coronavirus outbreak had affected the family-run independent business.

She said she hadn’t been out very much during lockdown, explaining: “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.”

The duchess is a keen advocate of spending time outdoors and told the owners: “It’s come up in so many different conversations whether it’s food, volunteering, and in all the mental health work that we’ve been doing, about how everyone is benefiting from being outside.

“So yes, they’ve been in lockdown but loads of families have been out on walks, more than they would do, outside.”

The staff and the duchess kept socially distant during the visit. (Getty Images)
Kate was pleased to hear they'd been getting new shoppers as they reopened. (Getty Images)

Kate heard from Mr Turner about the difficulties the garden centre had during lockdown, with 15 members of staff being furloughed and five made redundant as they could not keep them on.

She was delighted to hear more people had picked up gardening as a hobby during lockdown.

She said: “Really, that’s great, and now people have the time to do it.

“For those who are keen gardeners, have they struggled not being able to come in and maybe look or buy things?”

Prince William bought pain au chocolate during a visit to Smiths the Bakers in the High Street in King's Lynn. (Getty Images)
The duke paid for his pastries with contactless. (Getty Images)

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Kate kept to social distancing guidelines during the visit and was casually dressed in Superga khaki trainers, brown jeans and a padded hunting waistcoat.

She met garden workers Michaela Giura, 35, from Norwich, and Tobias Davies, 47, and asked if they were glad to be back, asking: It’s good to get a structure and a routine back isn’t it?”

On Friday morning, Prince William paid a visit to Smiths the Bakers, in King’s Lynn, which serves the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

He picked up some pastries, paying with contactless, and was also given a birthday cake by shop owner Paul Brandon.

The duke turns 38 on Sunday, which is also Father’s Day.

William told Mr and Mrs Brandon: “I can’t come in here and not buy anything, so have you got any pain au chocolat at all?

“Have you got any more by any chance?

“My children will not talk to me if I turn up without enough.”

As there were not five pain au chocolat left, he took four and one croissant, paying £4.15 by contactless.

Prince William, speaking to member of staff Ted Bartram. (Getty Images)
Prince William is presented by shop owner Paul Brandon (R) with a birthday cake. (Getty Images)

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He said: “I hope this works... Good, it’s still working – first time out in a while!”

The birthday cake, a vanilla sponge cake with white icing, cream and jam, was decorated with iced football boots, footballs and Union flags and read “Happy Birthday Prince William from all at Smiths the Bakers”.

The staff at the bakery told William about how they closed soon after lockdown was announced because so few people were visiting the high street, but reopened on Monday.

William said: “The important thing is that shops like yours can get the footfall back in again and the High Street and town feel like it’s getting a little bit more back to normal.

“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 about how the bakery is sealing everything in plastic to sell, to which he responded: “t’s a shame because we were doing quite well on the anti-plastic and then this comes along and we have to protect the food. It’s heartbreaking.”

Prince William speaks to shop staff Sarah Easthall and Ted Bartram at Smiths the Bakers. (Getty Images)
The Duke of Cambridge carries baked goods and pastries as he leaves Smiths the Bakers. (Getty Images)

He cleaned his hands with sanitiser on arrival and heard about the safety measures in place.

He also joked with staff, saying: “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.”

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.”