The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge put on a united front today as they carried out their first public engagement together in two months amid the continuing fallout over Prince Harry and Meghan stepping down as senior royals.
Prince William and Kate went on a tour of Bradford this afternoon as they met young people and employers and visited a community project that aims to strengthen bonds between grandparents and grandchildren.
That part of the visit will no doubt raise eyebrows after the Queen agreeing to allow her grandson Harry to step down as senior royals with his wife and begin a ‘new life’, splitting their time between the UK and Canada.
Today’s visit to the West Yorkshire city was William and Kate’s first joint public engagement together since a charity event in London two months ago on November 12 for their volunteer text support service Shout.
The engagement in Bradford was announced just last week on January 8 while tensions within the Royal Family were at a high before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said one day later that they were stepping down.
It has been a tumultuous week for the royals which also saw legal documents published in the battle between Meghan and the Mail on Sunday that could lead to her father testifying against her should the case go to trial.
Today, William and Kate will meet families from the Older Yet Wiser project – a workshop helping grandparents to enhance their relationship with their grandchildren and giving advice on raising children in the 21st century.
The couple – who have three children, George, six, Charlotte, four, and Louis, one – will also visit young people, employers and families at projects that promote cohesion within what is one of Britain’s most diverse cities.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Bradford City Hall today to hear about life in the city from young locals
Kate arrives for a visit to City Hall in Bradford today to join a group of young people from across the community
The Duchess of Cambridge visits City Hall in Bradford’s Centenary Square to meet people in the West Yorkshire city today
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit projects in Bradford which support the community and promote cohesion
Prince William and Kate go on a tour of Bradford this afternoon as they meet young people and employers
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Bradford City Hall to hear about life in the city in West Yorkshire today
Today, the couple will join in with workshops, including one session helping grandparents with child-caring responsibilities and another aimed at bringing people together in religiously and ethnically diverse communities.
They will begin the day at City Hall, in Centenary Square, where they will hear about life in Bradford from a group of young people and meet representatives from local businesses who are helping young people into employment.
They will then go on to visit one of the West Yorkshire city’s Khidmat Centres, which focus on helping the most vulnerable members of the community.
While there, William and Kate will join in a session by Better Start Bradford, which delivers more than 20 projects to pregnant women and families with children under the age of four.
The final engagement will see them joining a workshop run by Near Neighbours, which helps people in diverse communities to get to know each other better, build relationships of trust and improve their neighbourhoods.
The Duke of Cambridge smiles as he arrives at Bradford City Hall today to hear about life in the city from young locals
Today’s visit to the West Yorkshire city is William and Kate’s first joint public engagement together in two months
Prince William smiles as he talks to officials welcoming him to Bradford City Hall for the royal visit this afternoon
The couple – who have three children, George, six, Charlotte, four, and Louis, one – are visiting young people this afternoon
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives in Bradford today as the royal couple visit a number of projects in the city
William and Kate arrived in Bradford today to cheers from several hundred well-wishers on Centenary Square
During their visit to Bradford City Hall today, they are speaking with young people about life in the West Yorkshire city
The couple are visiting a number of projects today that promote cohesion within one of the UK’s most diverse cities
William and Kate’s visit comes just two days after the Queen agreed Harry and Meghan could step back as senior royals
The royals are visiting projects in Bradford that promote cohesion within what is one of Britain’s most diverse cities
The Duke and Duchess arrive for a visit to Bradford today to join a group of young people from across the community
Prince William and Kate arrive in Bradford today after what has been a tumultuous week for the royals
The Duchess of Cambridge listens to what is being said during her visit with William to Bradford today
Kate and William were seen out together twice last month on December 25 at the Queen’s estate Sandringham for a church service – and a week before that on December 18 at the Queen’s Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace.
Yesterday, the Duchess of Sussex was seen for just the second time since the royal crisis began at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver discussing ‘issues affecting women in the community’.
The shelter posted a photograph on its Facebook page, with the caption ‘Look who we had tea with today! The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, visited us today to discuss issues affecting women in the community.’
Meghan did not join the royal summit at Sandringham with the Queen and senior royals by phone earlier, instead relying on her husband to put forward their case for a new independent life.
People hold Union Jack flags ahead of William and Kate meeting with the members of the public in Bradford today
Security personnel keep watch atop a building ahead of the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today
After the summit the Queen issued a statement which sanctioned the couple’s new ‘independent life’ away from full-time royal duties and she said they would begin a transition period living in the UK and Canada.
The duchess is said to be the driving force behind the move. Harry and Meghan spent six weeks over the festive period based in the Canadian province of British Columbia staying at an exclusive property on Vancouver Island.
The duchess, a former actress, worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits, and knows the country well having lived there for seven years.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that Meghan’s estranged father Thomas is prepared to give evidence against his own daughter in an extraordinary legal case.
Mr Markle is expected to be called as a key witness for the defence in a court case she has brought against a newspaper.
A smiling Meghan Markle was spotted yesterday leaving the Vancouver Island home where she and Prince Harry stayed over the holidays with Archie. She has been staying in the mansion since last week, but Archie was nowhere to be seen yesterday
Yesterday, the Duchess of Sussex was seen for just the second time since the royal crisis began at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver, Canada, discussing ‘issues affecting women in the community’
Mr Markle, 75, has given lawyers previously unseen text messages sent in the build-up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry that reveal the breakdown of the relationship between father and daughter.
Some of the messages were detailed yesterday in defence papers filed at the High Court in London.
The Queen’s statement in full on Monday after a day of showdown talks to decide the futures of Harry and Meghan
The documents say that after Mr Markle messaged his daughter saying he couldn’t come to her wedding because he had been rushed to hospital for emergency heart surgery and told not to fly on health grounds, he received a text that appeared to be from Prince Harry.
The message admonished him, accused him of causing hurt to his daughter and did not ask about his health. It left Mr Markle ‘deeply hurt’.
In return, Mr Markle wrote: ‘I’ve done nothing to hurt you Meghan or anyone else … I’m sorry my heart attack is … any inconvenience for you.’
The Duchess of Sussex launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday last year after it published extracts of a letter she wrote to her father in August 2018.
Meghan, 38, has accused the newspaper – the sister paper of the Daily Mail – of breaching her privacy, her data protection rights and her copyright when it published extracts.
The MoS filed its defence to her case at the High Court in London yesterday. It denied her claims and argued there was a ‘huge and legitimate public interest’ in the Royal Family, including its ‘personal and family relationships’.
The Queen is pictured attending a service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk, on January 12
The defence papers also said:
- Thomas Markle only released Meghan’s letter to the world to show it was not the ‘loving’ plea her friends had been making out;
- He had kept her handwritten note private for months, and only revealed it to expose ‘false’ claims that the duchess had been reaching out to repair their relationship;
- He only decided to release extracts to the Press after she had allowed her friends to talk about the letter first in the US magazine People;
- That one of Meghan’s best friends, Jessica Mulroney, once intervened to try to fix a ‘favourable’ article for her;
- Mr Markle had insisted he made multiple attempts to contact his daughter by phone call and by text message, but received no response;
- That apart from the August 2018 letter, Mr Markle had not heard from his daughter since he told her he was too ill to attend her wedding. He had never been introduced to her husband Prince Harry, nor met his grandson Archie.
The development follows Monday’s Sandringham summit, which saw the Queen hold crisis talks about Meghan and Harry’s role in the Royal Family after they announced their wish to step back from their royal duties.
The duchess was last night pictured in Canada for the first time since she returned there following the bombshell ‘Megxit’ statement. She was seen boarding a sea plane from Vancouver Island which appeared to be destined for Whistler ski resort.
Meghan launched her legal action against the MoS last year after it published excerpts of her letter to her father. Mr Markle gave the letter to the newspaper after unnamed friends of the duchess told the People magazine that she had written the ‘loving’ letter in an attempt to repair their relationship.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were last pictured in public together after visiting Canada House in London on January 7
Lawyers for the newspaper alleged that Meghan had ‘knowingly’ allowed her friends to leak details of the letter to the magazine – effectively that she had helped to breach her own privacy.
Stressing that the Royal Family were public figures supported ‘largely by public funds’, the newspaper said: ‘There is a huge and legitimate public interest in the Royal Family and activities, conduct and standards of behaviour of its members.
‘This extends not merely to their public conduct, but to their personal and family relationships because those are integral to the proper functioning of the monarchy.’
If the case goes before a judge, the paper said it would ask for Meghan to be forced to hand over all communications in which she had ’caused or permitted her friends to provide information about her to the media or to seek to influence what is published about her’.
It could lead to the prospect of Meghan coming face to face with her father in the High Court.
Mr Markle, a retired Hollywood lighting director who lives in Rosarito, Mexico, has said his daughter cut off all contact with him after her wedding, except for the letter at the centre of the case.
If he were to be called as a witness, he would effectively have to brand his own daughter a liar who had invaded her own privacy. The Sussexes have said they will fund the legal proceedings privately.