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William and Kate in snowball fight at Christmas party for RAF families

PUBLISHED: 09:47 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 05 December 2018

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leaving Kensington Palace, London, after they hosted a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leaving Kensington Palace, London, after they hosted a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge found themselves in a snowball fight as they paid a heartfelt tribute to RAF families separated from loved ones over Christmas.

The Duke of Cambridge talks with five years old Ivan Mother at Kensington Palace, London, where he is a hosting a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Richard Pohle/The Times/PA WireThe Duke of Cambridge talks with five years old Ivan Mother at Kensington Palace, London, where he is a hosting a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Richard Pohle/The Times/PA Wire

William and Kate could not help themselves and indulged in a little festive fun after staging a Santa’s grotto in the grounds of their Kensington Palace home for more than 200 wives, girlfriends, parents and grandparents holding the fort at home.

In the colourful grotto the couple joined dozens of children, who have a parent based at either RAF Coningsby or RAF Marham, as they created crackers, decorated stockings or made chocolate truffles.

Kate told her guests: “William and I just wanted to pass on our huge gratitude to all of you here today.

“Not only are we grateful for you coming here to join our party, but also for the sacrifices you make on a daily basis on behalf of the nation.

The Duchess of Cambridge's private secretary Catherine Quinn (left) throws a snowball as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave Kensington Palace, London, after they hosted a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge's private secretary Catherine Quinn (left) throws a snowball as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave Kensington Palace, London, after they hosted a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

“As someone whose husband has served, I know how hard it feels when a loved one leaves home to do the job they’ve trained for.”

The couple are flying to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on Wednesday where some of the loved ones of the families they met are based, and will take with them a collection of early Christmas presents for the RAF personnel, some of which are based at RAF Marham, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

Kate went on to highlight how she had some idea how the relatives felt at this time of year as William, a former RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot, had served in the Falklands for six weeks in 2012.

She said: “But I can’t imagine how it feels when your loved ones are away on active service over Christmas or at those special family moments.

The Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace, London, where she is a hosting a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Richard Pohle/The Times/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace, London, where she is a hosting a Christmas party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 4, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Richard Pohle/The Times/PA Wire

“The absence of people you love must be especially hard at this time of year. William and I, however, hope that today shows, in some small way, how much you are all valued.”

When George Whitefield, co-director of the children’s events company Sharky and George which staged the day’s entertainment, appeared with a handful of mock snowballs, that was all the encouragement William needed.

He said: “He saw I had some in my hand and he had a little mischievous nod and wink and looked like he wanted one to throw back at us.”

As artificial snow fell around them the two me exchanged snowballs and Kate even found herself the target of a playful attack.

Earlier the duchess had chatted to Barrie, 72, and Ann Macdonald, 70, from Manchester who are looking after their five-year-old grandson Harry while his parents are deployed overseas at Christmas.

Their daughter Claire O’Grady and her husband Paul, known as Pablo to the family, are both RAF Wing Commanders based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, home to Typhoon squadrons which deploy to Cyprus and fly operations in support of Op Shader, the UK’s contribution to the ongoing campaign against Isis.

Mrs Macdonald, who said her son-in-law was at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus while her daughter was in Afghanistan, added: “Kate was asking Harry where his mummy and daddy were and she said to me it’s quite a commitment but it was great for the family to have us pulling everything together.

“William said he’d remember Harry’s name and mention him to his dad when he saw him in Cyprus.”

Her husband said: “We see our main function as giving my daughter and her husband peace of mind. They’ve got an important job to do and they don’t have time to worry about their son.”

The couple said they had handed over a present of a bottle of aftershave for William and Kate to take over to Cyprus.

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