Tuesday, December 4, 2012
West Norfolk joined the chorus of congratulations after Buckingham Palace announced the news Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child.
The Royal Family have a long and close association with Norfolk, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have played their part in helping to strengthen this royal bond with the county.
It was on a bitterly cold evening in Norfolk when a beaming Prince William and his then fiancee Kate Middleton made their first public appearance after announcing their engagement.
The couple were in a relaxed mood as they greeted the crowds on December 20, 2010 before watching a gala charity performance of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular and attending a special reception in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Both were dressed to impress rather than equipped for the sub-zero chill, with the Duchess of Cambridge wearing a knee-length white and black dress and Prince William in a sharp suit and festive red tie.
It was also the prince’s first official engagement in the county and he could be seen waving and shouting enthusiastic hellos to the crowd – even flashing a “very nice hats” compliment to a delighted bunch of giggling young Thursford elves waiting by the barriers.
The couple’s next public appearance in Norfolk was more of a sombre event as they joined the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, minus Prince Philip, at a Christmas Day service in Sandringham last year.
The Duke of Edinburgh had been flown to Papworth Hospital the Friday before Christmas after suffering chest pain but that didn’t deter thousands of well-wishers flocking to Sandringham to greet the couple.
The gathering was the largest ever seen at Sandringham, with the Duchess of Cambridge attending the family’s Christmas Day celebrations for the first time.
As the Queen greeted a long line of children bearing flowers and gifts following the half-hour service, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge then led the rest of the Royal party in greeting the large crowd.
William also answered questions from the public on his grandfather’s health
The couple’s last official visit to East Anglia was just last week when they toured the city that gave them their titles, celebrating Cambridge’s university and some of its charities, schools and hard-working volunteers.
Sporting a new hairstyle, Kate was dressed in a MaxMara dress and coat and looked relaxed as she arrived at the Guildhall with her husband, who wore a dark suit.
They then greeted people assembled in the market square from the balcony of the building after meeting city dignitaries, before moving on to the Senate House to address 400 students from the university’s 31 colleges.
It was in the market square where Prince William accepted a gift that sparked rumours the couple could be hearing the pitter patter of tiny royal feet sometime in the near future – a babygro.
As the pair mingled with crowds who had turned out to cheer them, Sudbury mother Samantha Hill gave the Duke, an RAF search and rescue pilot, a baby-themed present – a little romper suit emblazoned with a picture of a helicopter and the words ‘Daddy’s little co-pilot’.
Ms Hill then told reporters: “I made it for when his little one comes along, he’s a helicopter pilot so his baby will think his daddy is cool.
“When I gave it to him he said ‘I’ll keep that’ and handed it to his aide.’
The baby theme continued when Kate met another mother, Tessa Davies, from Cambridge, who had given her son James the middle name William in honour of the Duke.
The Duchess tickled the baby’s foot as she chatted to Ms Davies, who told the royal about her tribute to William.
Royal watcher Mary Relph, of Shouldham Thorpe, near Downham Market, said she was delighted and looking forward to the arrival of the couple’s first child.
“It’s wonderful news. I was told this afternoon as I was getting my tea ready and I am absolutely thrilled to bits,” she said.
“It’s absolutely lovely for them, but I’m also so pleased for the Queen and Prince Charles. I can’t knit so I shall have to think of something else to give them for the baby.”
Mrs Relph, who has a huge collection of royal memorabilia at her home, is an ardent fan of the Royal Family.
Her sentiments were echoed around the area. West Norfolk Mayor Geoffrey Wareham said: “It’s brilliant news. I am sure in the next 24 hours we will be sending them a letter of congratulations from the borough.
“They have a great connection with the younger ones. Kate reminds me a lot of the Queen Mum. She has that same charisma and way with people.”
The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Rev Jonathan Meyrick, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to hear this very exciting news.
“They will be in my prayers as they prepare for this event. I remember from the birth of my first child what an exciting time it is and it’s an experience like nothing else.”
He added: “This is really exciting news for the country and it comes at the end of what has been a terrific year for this country.”
Meanwhile, chairman of Sandringham Flower Show, David Reeve, said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the both of them. It’s wonderful news. I’m sure everybody in and around Sandringham are pleased and hope that everything goes well.”
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were at the annual show earlier this year. The Royal Family are expected to gather at Sandringham House as usual for Christmas.
It is not known if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be joining the party this year, but the couple would have been expected before yesterday’s announcement.
The Queen, Prince Philip and other senior royals will be at Sandringham Church on Christmas morning for the traditional service and a huge crowd usually gather to greet them.