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Royal family speak out in support of British business

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took to the high street in support of local shops as the Queen issued a personal message of praise for UK businesses.

The royal family championed firms as customers returned to shops across England this week following the opening of non-essential retail outlets.

William toured a bakery and Kate made a separate shopping trip to a garden centre – their first face-to-face public engagements since the coronavirus lockdown began.

The Queen in her message to the British Chambers of Commerce said: “At a time of great difficulty for many, it is heart-warming to see the civic response and generosity of so many businesses, small and large, to the challenges posed, whether supporting the health sector or vulnerable communities.

The Queen has sent a message to the British Chambers of Commerce in support of business communities (Victoria Jones/PA)
The Queen has sent a message to the British Chambers of Commerce in support of business communities (Victoria Jones/PA)

“As patron of the British Chambers of Commerce, it gives me great pride to see the contribution you and your members are making to help firms, champion trade and rebuild communities.”

Kate revealed the majority of her trips outside her home during lockdown have been to shop for food when she visited Fakenham Garden Centre near her Norfolk home of Anmer Hall on Thursday.

The duchess took the opportunity to buy some plants and she heard how the independent family business had to close for seven weeks but has since reopened with safety measures in place.

Kate chatted to customer Wendy McNeil, 72, a lecturer and tutor from the nearby village of Holme Hale, who did not recognise the duchess as she explained she was buying herbs for her son’s pub, the York in Norwich.

The duchess, who earlier spoke to garden centre owners Martin and Jennie Turner, told her: “We’ve just been talking about everyone getting out and businesses getting up and running again, it’s been really, really hard. How’s it been for his staff?”

William chatting to bakery owners Paul and Teresa Brandon (Aaron Chown/PA)
William chatting to bakery owners Paul and Teresa Brandon (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mrs McNeil replied: “They’re all on furlough and he’s starting to get the chefs back, and now we want to make the garden look good as it hasn’t been touched for donkeys’ years.”

The 72-year-old said after the visit: “It was lovely talking to Kate and she knew her stuff on gardening.”

William revealed his three children have been “attacking the kitchen” during lockdown when he visited family firm Smiths the Bakers in King’s Lynn, which holds a Royal Warrant and serves the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

The duke heard it took the decision to close its doors soon after lockdown was announced as so few people were visiting the high street, before reopening on Monday.

The business run by Paul Brandon and his wife Teresa, operated a home-delivery service while its shop was closed.

William heard how most of the bakery’s business came from wholesale orders, including to schools which closed during lockdown, but is now starting to see customers return to the shop.

The duke ended his visit saying he could not leave without buying something and asked for five pain au chocolat, adding: “My children will not talk to me if I turn up without enough.”

Only four were left in the bakery so a croissant was substituted, and after the £4.15 cost was paid by a contactless card transaction, William joked: “Good, it’s still working – first time out in a while!”

The bakery presented him with a vanilla sponge cake ahead of his 38th birthday on Sunday.

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