Whistle stop tour of Birmingham for William & Kate: 4x4s, football & whistles

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been in Birmingham today visiting Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Villa football club and a family run whistle factory.

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William and Kate’s first port of call was at the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull, near the second city.

The Duchess happily got behind the wheel for an off-road driving experience, although Jaguar Land Rover’s site does not recommend the activity for expectant mothers. Catherine is approximately 4 months pregnant with her third child, and she drove around the course that features steep slopes and rough terrain.

Jaguar Land Rovers website says: “The course may be unsuitable for those who suffer from back problems (or any other similar conditions). It may also be unsuitable for those who are pregnant.

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“We would therefore recommend that you do not participate in the Driving Experience if you […] are pregnant.”

Kate was seen to be smiling broadly as he manoeuvred the all-terrain vehicle from around the precarious course. Not wanting to be outdone by his wife, William also got tackled the course in a Mountain Rescue vehicle, although the drive wasn’t entirely incident free; the Duke encountering a spot of trouble on the rock climb part of the course.

Instructor Ro Furby, who accompanied the Duke around the circuit, said the Prince had done ‘amazingly well’. Explaining that almost every driver new to the course stops at a “little quirk” part-way up the rock crawl, Ro added: “It’s just a point where the vehicle actually articulates and you lose a little bit of traction.

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“And you learn that a nice way to recover from a loss of traction is to change your lines subtly. It’s something that we do use as learning for any guest that actually takes on that obstacle.”

Back on firmer ground, William and Kate toured the plant and spoke to workers on the assembly line, which operates 24 hours a-day with a workforce of 10,000.

kate, duchess of cambridge is shown the production line at land rove jaguar (kensington palace)

The company operates a ‘Wounded, Injured, Sick’ training programme and the royals met 80 former service personnel who are benefiting from the scheme. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were shown a video in the boardroom of the royal use of Land Rovers and Jaguars, for which William had to don his glasses.

Before they left, William and Catherine got to see a local school’s model racing car, giving it a whirl around the mini track. The vehicle had won the company’s primary school challenge.

The Royals’ next visit was to Aston Villa football club – the team famously supported by Prince William himself. They were there to look at the club’s sports coaching initiative, which works with the Royal Foundation’s Coach Core programme, and met youngsters from Prince Albert Infant and Junior School who were taking part in training on the pitch.

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The couple both put on trainers and puffer jackets for the session on the pitch.

The Duchess laughed and chatted to youngsters involved in the Coach Core scheme – designed by the Royals to support young people from deprived areas.

10-year-old Sidrah Batul was lucky enough to meet Kate and described her as “kind and pretty”. Iman Shazad, also 10, presented her with a card and flowers.

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Club chief executive Keith Wyness quipped to the Duchess: “Welcome back to the home of one of your husband’s other passions.”

Kate replied: “Yes, he’s been very excited by it.”

prince william, duke of cambridge’s watches a coach core training session at aston villa (kensington palace)

The Duke of Cambridge, who is also President of the Football Association, laughed and said: “It’ll be interesting to see if she’s been listening to any of my conversations about football”, causing Kate to joke “I knew I should have.”

The final visit of the day was to the Acme Whistles – the world’s largest whistle manufacturer who were founded in Birmingham in the 1860’s.

the duke and duchess of cambridge at acme whistles (kensington palace)

Wincing at the sound, the royal couple heard a football whistle created by the family firm. All the major sporting competitions use Acme whistles, as do the Met Police, whom Prince William visited a few weeks ago as officers graduated.

After touring the company’s museum, the couple unveiled a plaque and Catherine was presented with a gold whistle necklace by Kamla Maman, who has worked at the company for 40 years. Kate and William were also given six whistles for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Earlier this week the Duke and Duchess joined other members of the Royal Family to celebrate The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s 70th wedding anniversary at Windsor Castle on Monday evening. Absent was Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who was undertaking a visit to Bangladesh. 

william and kate learnt about whistle production (kensington palace)

the royal couple unveiled a plaque at acme whistles (kensington palace)

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