The Palace of Holyroodhouse paid host to very special little Princess on Thursday evening: five-year old Mila Sneddon and her family, who met The Duchess of Cambridge in person after speaking on the phone as part of the Hold Still campaign.
The visit came three weeks after Kensington Palace released a YouTube video of a phone conversation between the Duchess, Mila, and her mother, Lynda. The phone call took place in August of last year, after Catherine and the Hold Still project panel had decided the final 100 images to be included in the Hold Still virtual exhibition.
Chatting to the youngster, The Duchess of Cambridge promised Mila that they would meet in person one day, and that she would wear a pink dress when they did.
Lynda Sneddon was one of the thousands of people around the UK who submitted an image to the project, showing what life was like for them during the UK’s first lockdown in 2020. The aim of Hold Still 2020 was to document lockdown for future generations to look back on, and was run with Kate and her patronage, the National Portrait Gallery.
Lynda’s image featured Mila pressed against the window, looking out at her father Scott who stands smiling in at her from the front garden. At the time the image was taken, Mila was undergoing intensive chemotherapy for leukaemia. As Lynda explained to the Duchess during their phone call, the family had to make the difficult decision of living apart during lockdown but it was for a good reason: shielding Mila from coronavirus.
Lynda and Mila moved in with Lynda’s mother, where they all isolated from the outside world. Mike and Mila’s older sister, Jodi, lived together in their home. The image was taken on the first day of their separation and went viral when posted online by Mila’s mother.
Arriving for the private meeting, the Duchess had changed from her earlier casual outfit into a lovely pink dress, Mila’s favourite colour.
Mila, who wore a tiara with her own pink dress, stood up and twirled to show her outfit to the Royal. The mother-of-three told Mila that she wanted to give her a big squeeze, but of course, due to social distancing guidelines, could not. Instead, they sat two meters apart from each other on the same couch and had a conversation with masks on.
The Duchess of Cambridge keeps her promise to five-year-old cancer patient Mila Sneddon, who wanted to meet a princess wearing pink. pic.twitter.com/oXNFtSC17B
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) May 27, 2021
As well as meeting with The Duchess, the Sneddon family also enjoyed tea and a tour of the Palace, which is the Scottish royal residence.
Following the meeting, it was back to work. Catherine changed from pink to blue and accompanied her husband to the Closing Ceremony of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, of which he was Lord High Commissioner. Prince William opened the church’s convention last weekend, as The Queen’s representative to the event.
The engagement brought to a close the formal part of their week-long visit to Scotland, which Kate joined her husband for just a part.
During the ceremony, The Duke of Cambridge gave a speech to the few congregated at Assembly Hall in Edinburgh, and all those watching on Zoom.
The Duchess looked on as William told everyone it was ‘an honour to represent The Queen as Lord High Commissioner’ and spoke about the past week he and his wife had spent in Scotland.
He commented they had been listening and learning so that they can ‘serve alongside you with the combination of humility and conviction that speaks so powerfully to us’.
Catherine and I came here to listen, so we might learn more about your challenges.
But also, to learn of your hopes and aspirations, so that we may serve alongside you with the combination of humility and conviction that speaks so powerfully to us. #GA2021 pic.twitter.com/iVrCleEs1d
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) May 27, 2021
Back at the Palace, the Duke and Duchess carried out the final engagement of their visit. They attended the Beating Retreat by The Massed Pipes and Drums of the Combined Cadet Force in Scotland. But they were not the only guests. Sitting watching the event alongside the royal couple – at a distance – were the Sneddon family, who had been invited to join them for the occasion.
The Cambridges spoke with those taking part in the event before going over to speak to the Sneddon family, William meeting them for the first time. They then took their seats and watched the event, speaking and smiling amongst themselves throughout. At one point, Mila was spotted waving over at the Duchess and her husband, causing them to smile and wave back.
The couples visit to Scotland was memorable for many reasons – the competitiveness of the couple during sport events, their trip back to St Andrew’s where it all began, the gratefulness they showed to frontline staff, and their interaction with the Scottish public. But for one special little girl and her family, it will be a time she will never forget!