The Duchess of Cambridge gamely helped shear a sheep during a visit to a Cumbrian farm this afternoon.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Kate, 37, giggled as she helped the Brown family tend to their flock of Herdwick and Swaledale sheep at Deepdale Hall Farm in Patterdale.
The Duke of Cambridge, 36, also got stuck in with the day’s chores, trying his hand at shearing and joining his wife to help repair a dry stone wall on the estate.
The couple also joined the Cumbria Wildlife Trust on a nature walk through the farm and took in the view of the stunning countryside.
The visit marked the culmination of a busy day of engagements in the region, which also saw the royal couple meet with local residents, sample local produce and learn more about the challenges facing farmers.
During the nature walk The Duchess of Cambridge said she is immersing her three children in her love for the mountainous area of Britain’s Lake District.
Kate, who has regularly holidayed in the area throughout her life, brought them for a family break in a recent half term holiday, and she told the crowd who came out to meet her and husband Prince William on Tuesday.
‘She said that it was raining a lot and was a long way from their home in Norfolk, but they love it here,’ one wellwisher lining the market square in the center of Keswick, Cumbria, said.
And she added to others that they were fortunate to live in the area she clearly has a close attachment to. Last month, she wrote in a note that was posted during the Chelsea Flower Show that said it was a place she loved to go ‘boulder hopping’ when she was a child.
‘She said that her children love coming here and walking in the fells,’ Jack Mumberson, 11, from Ireby Church of England school, said ‘She told us how nice the Lake District was and how lucky we were to live so close to the mountains.’
Kate was speaking as husband William, 36, joked with the youngsters about wanting to join them for their lunch at school nearby. ‘He asked me if I play any sports and I said football [soccer],’ added Niamh Edmondson, nine. ‘I said midfield and sometimes upfront and he said you need to do a lot of running around in the midfield.’
The royal children were not far from Kate’s mind as she chatted with some of the many moms and babies – including asking how old little 10-week-old boy called Harry Graham was as he was cradled by his mom Laura Johnson – who were among the 1000-strong crowd in the main square.
‘She said Charlotte was looking forward to school,’ Helen Jones, 35, from Carlisle, who brought her four-year-old Eva along, said, ‘She was very friendly.’
And chatting to Jen Casson, 37, a children’s nurse from Thursby, Cumbria, she noticed her son Luke, 2, in the chill among the crowd, and said, ‘He will be getting a little fed up.’
She adds, ‘I said that he could do with a little Freddo and she said ‘I’m sure he would.’ She was brilliant with everyone. She was asking a woman how old her baby was and then said that with Louis so much bigger now, you soon forget how small the baby was.’
Earlier, the royal parents met with local people who had helped raise funds for the local flood relief effort, volunteers who keep the mountain rescue groups and young people working to help address wellbeing issues among children.
Kate, who has been championing the work of those who help people with addictions and how drug and alcohol abuse affects families, met Phil Caine, a recovery coach. ‘She talked about the subject of early intervention among the youth and schools. You can see she’s really keen to look into it further,’ he said.
And Simon Morsby, a former drug abuser and a user of the Cumbria Drug and Alcohol Service, added, ‘I felt I could have talk to her for an hour and she would have wanted to do so too. I was really impressed.’
Meeting some young people from the We Will mental health campaign aimed at 14-18 year olds, an animated Kate asked about the support they receive and the series of films they have made about breaking down barriers and listening to peers about mental health issues. ‘You can see it is a subject she is very passionate about. What came over was her energy and commitment and passion,’ says Billy Robinson, 18.
Adds Elspeth Dennison, ‘She was asking us about the support for young people in the area and what young people are talking about. It has always been a big issue in schools.’
The local mountain rescue teams are staffed by volunteers who can only keep up that support for climbers and walkers in the area with the help of their employers who may have to quickly adjust their staffing needs if a worker is called away to aid rescue efforts. One group told heard from William about how he would fly over the region when he was working as a search and rescue pilot based with the RAF in North Wales. ‘He had fond memories of the mountains,’ said Richard Smith of the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team – who asked the Prince to come and open their base when it is completed.
And volunteer Jonny Hulme told Kate how the community pulled together when the floods happened – Keswick school, where Hulme teaches, doubled up as an emergency rescue center. ‘We talked about how we get all weathers on the mountains. She said that when it is sunny it is like nowhere else on earth and the light up here is spectacular.’
The couple also took the opportunity to browse some market stalls with Kate sampling some of Mawbray Cheese Compay’s goats cheese with herbs – she called it ‘light and elicate’ – while William tasted the Beckford cheese flavored with pickled onions and declaring ‘We will stop all day and stay for lunch,’ he told Jan McGreavy. And passing the Spirit of Keswick small batch distillery stall (where they sadly didn’t sample any of the liquers) they were told that they were a little early in the season for the full strength gin. ‘Typical!’ joked William.
They were in the area to see how resilient the tourism and farming industries have been in the face of hard economic challenges and the floods of 2015 which causes widespread damage. Some of those they met in Keswick had helped raise around $2 million (£1.3 million) to help businesses and residents affected.
As they left Keswick to head for a farm to talk to farmers and see how the seasonal job of sheep shearing was carried out, Kate quipped that she hoped they would be back in London for the school run this evening.
Earlier Kate, 37, and William, 36, were greeted by English springer spaniels Max, Paddy and the cheekily named Prince Harry on their arrival in the pretty market town of Keswick.
The Duke and Duchess were first introduced to therapy dog Max and his owner Kerry Irving, 54, a mental health campaigner, at a Buckingham Palace garden party last month.
It is understood Mr Irving so impressed the royals that he was invited to meet them again on their visit to his hometown of Keswick today.
The royals chatted happily with Mr Irving and his wife Angela before taking part in a walkabout through Market Square, which was decorated with colourful bunting for the occasion.
The usually polished Duchess opted for a practical look in preparation for the day’s hands-on engagements, swapping her heels for favourite £250 See By Chloé combat boots and wearing black skinning jeans.
She finished the look with a £275 green utility jacket by Taylor London, which is believed to be a new addition to her royal wardrobe. The piece was an appropriate choice given the unseasonably chilly weather in the UK.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took a 30-minute helicopter flight from London to Cumbria.
First stop was the Market Square in Keswick, where William and Kate met volunteers, community leaders, and sampled local produce.
Among them were mental health campaigner Mr Irving, his wife and their three dogs. The couple – and faithful 11-year-old therapy dog Max – first met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Queen’s garden party, after being invited in recognition for Mr Irving’s work in mental health.
Mr Irving overcame acute depression after a serious car accident to become a respected mental health campaigner, and credits getting outdoors with Max with saving his life.
Mr Irving is now training his two other dogs, Paddy, two, and seven-month-old Harry – full name is Prince Harry of Winterfells – to become therapy dogs.
Speaking after his conversation with the Duke and Duchess today, Mr Irving said: ‘When I said, ‘That’s Prince Harry’, William laughed said, ‘Oh yes, this is the one you mentioned when you were down at the palace’.’
Mr Irving continued: ‘The nicest thing was they actually remembered us from being in the Palace, they remembered Max.
‘He [The Duke of Cambridge] said just flying over today, when they were coming in and they flew over the lakes, ‘To see everybody out on their boats, their dinghies, their kayaks and things, people outdoors, it’s great work you do, getting people outside’.’
The royal visitors are known to be dog lovers, owning an English cocker spaniel.
Mr Irving continued: ‘Then Kate was talking about her dog and she said, ‘Your dogs are so calm. Maybe we should lend you Lupo’.
‘And I said, ‘I’m quite happy to take Lupo for a walk. You are quite welcome to come with us’, and he [William] said, ‘I’d love to, I’d really love to’. I said, ‘Any time you need a break, just give me a call and we’ll go for a walk’.’
In 2006, Mr Irving’s car was hit by a truck, leaving him with severe spinal injuries. Once active and outdoor-loving, he became virtually house-bound and suffered acute panic attacks.
On his rare forays outside the house, he would see Max, who belonged to a neighbour, and eventually asked if he could take him for a walk. Mr Irving, who later rehomed Max, now takes Max into schools to inspire children to enjoy the outdoors. He also has 106,000 followers of his social media account Max Out In The Lake District.
Mr Irving added: ‘Without Max I would not be here. He saved my life because I was suicidal.’
The Duke and Duchess were on hand to recognise the contribution of individuals and local organisations in supporting communities and families across Cumbria.
The Duke and Duchess sampled some local cheese from market stall holders in Keswick, before talking to local people involved with organisations in supporting communities across Cumbria and going on a walkabout in the town’s Main Street.
Cumbria is home to the English Lake District, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017, and to England’s largest lake – Windermere – and highest mountain – Scafell Pike.
The rural county is visited by millions each year, making tourism key to the economy. Farming and agriculture also has a special place in the Lake District National Park, famous for its native Herdwick sheep, and farmers have worked for centuries on some of the most challenging land in the country.