Prince William and Catherine headed to the Midlands today, for a spate of engagements in Birmingham.
Aiming to ‘celebrate the city’s diverse culture and thriving creative industries’, beginning with its culinary scene, The Prince and Princess of Wales kicked off their day at the Indian Streatery, an authentic, family-run Indian restaurant based in the city centre.
They helped out in the kitchen, making rotis and chatting to the Sharma family, who own the business. Students from University College Birmingham were also in the kitchen, alongside head chef Meena, who train at the restaurant.
They had travelled by train, with the Prince having visited the city just the week before for an Aston Villa match at the ground with Prince George.
Both Royals said they ‘love curries’ and ‘secretly try lots of curry houses around the country’. The Princess commented that food is ‘so nostalgic’ and said she ‘loves spice’, but the Prince said he preferred milder food, adding: ‘I’m a masala man.’
Birmingham is famed for its Balti Triangle of Indian restaurants, and claims to have created the tikka masala.
When asked whether their children enjoy Indian food, Kate replied: ‘Absolutely, they love it.’
A humorous moment ensued with the future King took a booking over the phone, unbeknownst to the customer.
Just as the couple were about to be offered a selection of dishes to taste, the phone rang, with William asking: ‘Should I take the order?’
He picked up the phone unexpectedly, dealing with a last minute booking. ‘Do we have a seat for two right now?’ William asked Meena Sharma, head chef. ‘Half past two?’ he suggested. ‘Does that work for you? No, apparently not right now…
‘You’ve got a train at 3? If you could get in at half past two that would be fine. For two people? Maybe a quarter past two, and you could make the train at three?’
Sharma, doing her best to keep a straight face, had to correct him: ‘We have some guests in that are probably not going to leave by then. We don’t have any tables free…!’
However, accommodation was made and the couple turned up at 2.15.
The guest later said he had ‘no idea’ that William took the call. ‘It’s pretty amazing and a surprise. I didn’t know at that moment, but it’s a very nice surprise. Obviously (I will be telling everyone), it’s not something that happens often.
‘I didn’t recognise his voice at all, this is the first time I was listening to him on the phone, so I genuinely thought someone was taking the booking for me.’
The couple finally tried pani puri, black dahl, methi chicken and balpuri chaat at the restaurant.
After lunch and a quick walkabout to greet the crowds, William and Kate headed to The Rectory. The pub and restaurant is located just on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter, which makes around 40% of the UK’s jewellery, with the anchor being its assay mark.
Here, they hosted a reception for local business owners and creatives, and heard about how the city is supporting young people from across the West Midlands.
The Prince and Princess also met with a group of young people who are working in the creative industries. They heard about their experiences and challenges, before heading downstairs to 180 Club for a game of darts.
This Morning’s Alison Hammond, from Birmingham, who also works with BAFTA, one of William’s patronages, was at the event and took a selfie with the pair.
After hugging the Prince, she told him: ‘Next time, you need to come to my house so I can cook you a big Jamaican dinner.’
Playing darts, William joked: ‘This is how I spent university.’
At one point, William’s dart bounced off and onto the floor. Hammond laughed and said: ‘This is the best day of my life.’
Outside, wellwishers had gathered in large numbers to greet the Royals, which included John Parsons, 76, who had been Catherine’s drama and maths teacher at Pangbourne.
Another FaceTimed her grandmother in her care home, so that William could wish her a belated. ‘Happy birthday, Mary, I hear it was a couple of weeks ago,’ he said into the phone screen. ‘I hope you get to 100,’ he told the 90-year-old.
Mary, also an Aston Villa fan, replied: ‘Up the Villa!’ to which William laughed, and said: ‘We’re going up.’
Also among the crowd was John Parsons, 76, a retired teacher, who taught Kate drama and Maths at her St Andrew’s prep school in Pangbourne.