On Wednesday, The Duchess of Cambridge hosted a carol concert at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the heroes of the pandemic.
She was joined by her husband, Prince William, as well as numerous other members of the Royal Family who showed their support for the ‘Together at Christmas’ event.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by singing school children and reindeers outside the ancient church in central London, as dark began to fall across London.
They were joined inside by Princess Eugenie, new parents Princess Beatrice and Edo, Zara and Mike Tindall, as well as The Countess of Wessex and the Middleton family.
Usually gatherings of the royal cousins only publicly occurs at Christmas, Trooping the Colour and family events like weddings, so this was a rare treat for royal watchers.
Eugenie’s husband, Jack, was notably not in attendance; he lost his father last month, just before the couple christened their son, August, in a joint ceremony at Windsor with Zara and Mike’s son, Lucas. The Princess arrived with her cousin, Zara.
— Westminster Abbey (@wabbey) December 8, 2021
Masks were worn inside the abbey, in line with new guidance.
Amongst the 1200 guests was Mila Sneddon, six, who met Catherine at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in May, after being featured in the Duchess’ ‘Hold Still’ photography project as she underwent chemotherapy to treat leukaemia.
The Duchess asked the to give a twirl in her sparkly dress, before the concert began.
Mila also gave a reading and said afterwards: “I showed her [Kate] my dress and she said I looked lovely.”
Little Mila Sneddon, 6, gives the duchess a twirl as she is greeted at Kate's "Together at Christmas" concert. Mila, who has leukamia and featured in Kate's 'Hold Still' Covid project is one 1,200 guests at the festive bash that will be screened on Xmas Eve ITV. pic.twitter.com/rx0dPvAMY5
— Matt Wilkinson (@MattSunRoyal) December 8, 2021
“She asked me what I was getting from Father Christmas and I told her I wanted a Barbie Dreamhouse.”
Her mother, Lynda, said: “Last two Christmases Mila has been in hospital so we are looking forward to having Mila at home this year. We are just an ordinary family. It is amazing to be invited.”
Another brave child attendee was Tony Hudgell, who had both legs amputated after being abused by his birth parents. Last week, Tony, aged just seven, helped force a law change to get life in jail for child abusers, and has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for Evelina London Children’s Hospital, of which Kate is patron.
Colonel David Blum, 98, met Kate last month during Remembrance Day celebrations. He beamed after she sought him out and said: “My family are far away so I won’t be seeing them at Christmas. I am very grateful to be invited. Kate is very charming.”
The concert was filmed, for a Christmas Eve broadcast, with entertainment from the likes of Tom Walker, Ellie Goulding, and Leona Lewis. Tom sang his Christmas single, For Those Who Can’t Be Here, while Goulding and Lewis gave renditions of Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas and O Holy Night respectively.
Prince William also delivered a reading (Luke 2:1-7), as did TV presenter, Kate Garraway, whose husband spent over a year in hospital after contracting Covid, and paralympian and doctor Kim Daybell.
Celebrity guess included footballer, Jordan Henderson, and comedian, Jason Manford. Henderson started the Players Together initiative, where Premiership stars donated wages to help NHS charities, and the comic used his time in the pandemic as a delivery driver for Iceland, and drove over-80s to their medical appointments.
Armed forces personnel involved in evacuating 15,000 people from Afghanistan were also in the audience, as were representatives from patronages and charities of of The Queen, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and William and Kate.
Singer George Ezra, who gave his songs to Joe Wicks to use during his online pandemic PE lessons, and radio DJ Adele Roberts, who supported the Cambridges’ Our Frontline campaign to provide help for 999 heroes, were also spotted arriving.
Kate wrote an introduction for the concert’s programme, where she spoke of the difficulty of being separated from friends and family: “We have lost loved ones, seen our frontline workers placed under immeasurable pressure, and we have experienced heart-wrenching isolation from those we hold most dear.
“Alongside this, we have seen how communities have come together to support those most in need.
“And through our separation from others, we have been reminded just how powerful human connection is to us all.
“Just how much we need one another. And how loving and feeling a sense of belonging to one another can provide comfort in tough times.
“The importance of simply being together.”
“Christmas is a time when we can reflect on the past, listen to one another, focus on the relationships that nurture us and build our resilience, so we can look forward to a brighter shared future,” she added.
Kate also wrote: “Christmas is a time when we can reflect on the past, listen to one another, focus on the relationships that nurture us and build our resilience, so we can look forward to a brighter shared future.”