The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have just completed a two-day visit to Scotland, with engagements taking place in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The visit by The Earl and Countess of Strathearn, as William and Catherine are known in Scotland, is to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, but also had a strong focus on mental health to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. The couple’s engagements were reflective of each one’s individual passions: childhood development for Catherine, and football and men’s mental health for William.
Day one began in Glasgow with a trip to St John’s Primary School in Port Glasgow. Here, the couple joined in a Roots of Empathy session, which aims to help children build their empathy and understanding of a baby’s needs and emotions. The engagement would have been of particular interest to Catherine, as it ties in with her work on the early years and development.
After the session, the couple met with older pupils who have completed the programme to hear first-hand how they have benefited from the sessions. The programme, which sees the parent of a baby and a trained instructor work together, was developed in Canada and now has a wider international reach. Such sessions have been taking place throughout Scotland for the past 13 years.
William and Catherine then made their way to Kennsihead, where they saw the work being done by Wheatley Group – Scotland’s leading housing, care and property management group which aims to tackle homelessness and to also support vulnerable tenants, especially during the ongoing cost of living crisis.
The Cambridges met with those who have benefited from the group, as well as children who have received free books thanks to the Wheatley Group’s partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The group also provides education bursaries; William and Catherine had the opportunity to speak to Ceri Maclarty, who told them how the organisation has helped her to realise her dream of becoming a secondary school teacher.
The couple were also welcomed into the home of Joanne Wales, a Wheatley Homes Glasgow tenant. They met with Joanne and her son and heard how the house’s design is helping to reduce the cost of her energy bills, a very relevant topic with the current cost of living crisis.
Once outside, the couple met with people who had gathered to see them, posing for photos and with Prince William even doling out a special hug.
The recipient of the hug was 66-year-old William Burns, who is local to the area, after he had a brief exchange with the Duke. “I decided to meet the chap and I went to shake the man’s hand when he asked my name.
“When I told him my name was William, he said, ‘My name is William too.’ I said, ‘I know that’ and he laughed. He had his hand on my shoulder.
“He had his hand on my shoulder and then hugged me. I was quite emotional. I was overjoyed.”
Burns, who joined the crowds to see the Royals ‘for a peek about’ said of the experience: “I am a grandfather. It felt like a son hugging a father.
“It was the way he hugged me. I didn’t expect that really to be honest. It was a boost. I’ve never felt anything like it in my entire life before and my existence as a human being.”
Photos show the local looking emotional during the hug, which are generally not given.
Of the Duchess, he commented: “I saw Kate and thought, that lady is wonderful. She is beautiful and clearly a beautiful person.”
The last visit of the day was to the University of Glasgow, where the couple met with students to hear about the support offered to them by the university, as well as the understanding and empathy that the students have gained from that in regards to mental wellbeing.
Outside, a large crowd students gathered for a glimpse of the Royals and one of them even had help with their crossword! Jack Baird was stuck on seven down: “Forerunner of the Sovereign Grant, the funding provided to support the official duties of The Queen.” Catherine was able to tell him that the answer was ‘Civil List’.
The second day of the Scottish visit saw William go solo, with The Earl of Strathearn visiting Edinburgh’s Heart of Midlothian Football Club to learn more about their ‘Changing Room’ initiative. This is the latest in a string of visits to football clubs for The Duke as part of his Heads Up initiative, aiming to open the conversation around men’s mental health. Prince William is also President of the Football Association (FA) and presented the FA Cup Final trophy yesterday.
The ‘Changing Room’ is an initiative which sees football clubs prioritise the mental health of their players, staff and fans. During his visit to the Tynecastle Stadium, William met with the club’s Chief Executive, Andrew McKinlay, and Chair Ann Budge, to learn more about the programme, which has been taking place at both Hearts and city rivals, Hibernian Football Club, for the past four years. As part of the twelve-week programme, male supporters between 30 and 64 have the opportunity to come together, engaging in various activities to discuss their mental health in a positive way.
The Duke of Cambridge also visited Tynecastle’s memorial garden, a tranquil setting which allows for quiet reflection, commemorating loved ones who have passed on. Before leaving, William was given three little Hearts football shirts, one for each of his children, with their names on the back, which seemed to delighted the keen football fan!