Duke and Duchess of Cambridge don hard hats and high-vis jackets in Sunderland

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge don hard hats and high-vis jackets in Sunderland

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today visited Sunderland, where they carried out a series of engagements to “celebrate the city’s vibrant arts scene”.

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The first stop of the busy day for William and Catherine was the local Fire Station, which has recently been converted into a music and arts hub.

Greeting members of the public during a short walkabout, the royal couple briefly chatted to 101-year-old Jane Johnson, whose brother had worked at the fire station; she was so looking forward to seeing members of the Royal Family and gave the Duchess flowers. William and Catherine shared some of her life experiences and stories.

the duke of cambridge greets 101-year-old Jane Johnson (springboard NE)

the duchess of cambridge greets 101-year-old Jane Johnson (springboard NE)

They then headed indoors, where they were treated to vibrant performances of theatre, music and dance from local young people. The couple got to see an acrobatics class too, and were wowed with some of the youngsters’ moves.

At the station, the Duchess seemed to enjoy chatting to a group from Young Asian Voices, and asked if one of the girls would draw a henna design on her.

The lucky student, Shajida Begum, 18, drew a floral design on the Royal’s hand. Miss Begum remarked, “I said ‘Would you like a design?’ and she was like ‘Yes, if you don’t mind.’

“She was saying that it was really pretty. I was just telling her how it works. I was telling her when she can wash it off – I said ‘when it becomes flakey’.”

Kate also asked the group for a pack of bindis, for her daughter, Princess Charlotte; the Duke and Duchess then officially opened the centre.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Converting the station into a new arts hub is part of a project to turn a once-neglected corner of Sunderland into a new cultural quarter. The station will soon be accompanied by a 450-seat performance centre, The Auditorium, alongside the long established 2,000-seat Empire Theatre.

Next, the royal couple travelled to site of the new Northern Spire bridge over the River Wear, which is due to open in spring 2018.

The £117 million Sunderland City Council project is a key part of a wider transport plan to improve links between the city centre and the Port of Sunderland with the A19. The bridge’s pylon structure weighs 1,550-tonnes and is twice as high as Nelson’s Column.

william and kate visit the site of the northern spire bridge in hard hats and hi-vis jackets (kensington palace)

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For health and safety, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge donned high-vis jackets and hard hats, as they were given a tour of the site. Kate had also swapped to lower-heeled boots for the building site visit.

After speaking to engineers who have worked on the project, Prince Willaim was asked to screw in one of the last bolts into the bridge’s parapets. The future King joked: “‘Is this a key bit? What happens if it doesn’t tighten properly, how tight do you need it to be?

“We’ll walk away and the bolt will drop out!”

Of course, the Royals chatted to those who were involved in the building of the bridge, learning about how the local area will benefit.

You can find details on the Duchess’ outfit here.

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