The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge marked St David’s Day in Monmouthshire, spending time in the Abergavenny region. The day consisted of a farm visit to learn about local agriculture, meeting (and baking) with vulnerable youths, as well as heading to the market to see what local produce was on offer.
Prince William and Catherine donned daffodil pins to mark the occasion, beginning their day at Pant Farm, a Llanvetherine goat farm that has been providing milk to a local cheese producer for nearly two decades.
The couple heard about the challenges faced by the sector and how the farm works with local industries and services.
Dressed casually for the visit, the Royals enjoyed petting the young goats, although one did get a little too friendly with William’s finger…! “Ow! That definitely got my finger there,” he laughed. “They’ve got slightly larger teeth at the back!”
William, as future shepherd of the Duchy of Cornwall, undertook an agricultural management course at the University of Cambridge in 2014. He seemed clued up on the goats, complimenting owners Gary and Jess Yeomans, who also met Prince Charles during a visit in 2002: “They look in very healthy condition, the goats. Very glossy coats.”
The Duchess, meanwhile, spoke a little of her farming ancestry. “I was looking into my ancestry and there was someone who was a rare breed goat farmer,” Kate shared. “I will have to find out which on it was. It was just after the First World War.”
Of course, Wales is a special place for the Duke and Duchess, setting up home on the northern isle of Anglesey shortly after they wed.
The Cambridges last visited Wales in December 2020, when they thanked numerous frontline workers as part of their UK-wide train tour.
During the farm visit, the Six Nations clash between England and Wales at the weekend was mentioned. The future King said that there has been a “bit of rivalry in their family” over the subject of rugby as he is patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, and now Catherine holds the same role for England, taking over from Prince Harry. Prince George attended with them at the weekend.
“She’s wearing a Welsh scarf today though,” William told the farming couple. “It’s a good family rivalry.”
Gary told him: “George is going to have to come on your side.”
“Don’t worry,” replied the Duke. “He’s already there.”
Spotting a robot silage sweeper in one of the barns, Gary explained that it could also be used to move feed. Kate commented: “That was George’s job at half term – moving feed.”
William told his hosts the children had been getting involved on the farm and added: “We are trying some Agroforestry as well.”
This involves alternate rows of trees and plants to keep soil healthy long-term.
The couple have their London base at Kensington Palace but regularly retreat to Anmer Hall on the royal estate in Norfolk and live quite the country lifestyle. Sandringham, like Windsor, is also a working agricultural estate.
It was then on to Abergavenny Market, but not before a change of clothes to something more formal, and a walkabout! This was the couple’s first joint walkabout since the pandemic began in 2020.
One well-wisher, local Liz Brewer, asked: “How are the children?”
“The children are very well, thank you,” The Duke of Cambridge answered, “They are always asking us where we are going. And we show them where we are on the map.”
Crowds presented the guests with posies of flowers and a box of Welsh cakes. One cheeky schoolboy asked the future King to share them, to which William had to decline as there were not enough for everyone.
On St David’s Day in 2017, William was in Abergavenny to launch the Duke of Cambridge prize with SkillForce, to help children gain confidence and self- esteem.
Inside the market, William and Kate were offered tasters of local produce like cheese and cakes, later tweeting: “The importance of community for local business is so vital as we met and heard from third, fourth and even fifth generations of family businesses welcoming customers.”
Blaenavon Hwb was the next stop, a community-focused youth centre that supports over 600 local young people.
As with many Welsh valley towns, Blaenavon has faced economic hardship in the last 30 years with the decline of the mining industry; the Hwb is ensuring that the next generation are able to reach their potential by providing a space for alternative education and supporting care-experienced and vulnerable young people.
Inside they chatted with those who use the centre, and the staff. “What sort of talking do you do?” asked the Duke.
One girl told him that she comes to rant and let off steam, the Daily Mail writes. William replied: “Everyone needs to rant.”
The couple also enjoyed a game a pool.
It was then to the kitchen, where the Royals got their hands dirty making Welsh cakes.
“Don’t judge my cooking. It’s not Bake Off,” said the Prince defensively of his creations. “Where’s Mary Berry when you need her?!”
Prince William admitted it was his first attempt, handing the cakes to his wife to cook. Catherine stood at the hob and flipped the cakes on the skillet to cook them.
Ashleigh Taylor, director of development and programmes at the Hwb said for many of the children ‘this will be the highlight of their life’.
She said the youth ambassadors the Duke and Duchess were meeting are the ‘most vulnerable of the most vulnerable’ and that the Royals were ‘so kind’, also recognising the challenges vulnerable children face.
“To give them this opportunity is the most amazing thing,” Ms Taylor said, adding: “For them to be recognised and celebrated for their achievements it was absolutely wonderful to see.”
Parts of Blaenavon and the surrounding area was recognised as a World Heritage Site at the Millenium, and the site has partnered with the Hwb to form the World Heritage Youth Ambassador programme. It uses young people’s voices to promote the area’s rich history, steeped in the tradition of mining and coal.
The Duke and Duchess met young ambassadors here, and heard how they organise events, manage workshops and build networks with other World Heritage Sites.
At the visitor centre, the parents-of-three learnt more.
Rounding off the trip was a tribute to The Queen as they they ‘planted a tree for the Jubilee’ as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. Both the Duke and Duchess took turns to shovel soil to finalise the planting.