Emails between Kensington Palace aides and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s principal private secretary suggested the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ignored nationwide travel restrictions to carry out their cross-country tour. But Kensington Palace has denied the royals flouted coronavirus restrictions, and said they adhered to travel guidelines for work.
A spokesperson for the Cambridge royals said William and Kate adhered to Scottish Government guidelines for the train tour.
They said in a statement “the same guidance we gave last month” ahead of the Cambridge tour “still stands”.
Reiterating their December comments, they said: “The Duke and Duchess were travelling for work purposes and all rules were fully adhered to.
“The trip was planned in consultation with the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments.”
Prince William news: Kensington Palace has denied the Cambridge royals ignored Scottish Government warnings over coronavirus restrictions
Prince William news: Leaked emails from Scottish officials warned the Cambridge’s against travelling to Scotland due to coronavirus restrictions
It comes after a Freedom of Information request from The National showed John Somers, principal private secretary to Ms Sturgeon, had emailed the royals multiple times about the “major impact” the tour would have.
On November 12, Mr Somers raised concerns about plans for William and Kate to be greeted by a bagpiper at Edinburgh train station, as well as their planned visit to the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).
His email said: “You’ll know that we are currently asking people living in Scotland to avoid unnecessary travel from local authority to local authority and to keep journeys within the area they live to an absolute minimum.
“From a personal point of view I think the [train tour] is one which would mean a lot to many people living throughout the country.
“My anxiety though is the practical aspects of it and how presentationally it may be difficult if travel restrictions are in place. I think my view is that at the moment the chances of the tour having to be postponed are potentially quite high.”
Prince William news: The royal train tour went ahead in the second week of December
Prince William news: Nicola Sturgeon said at the time the royals had been informed about the travel restrictions
James Hynd, head of cabinet, parliament, and governance, also warned the Cambridge royals against their train tour a week later.
He said on November 19: “The Scottish Government is likely to bring forward statutory restrictions on non-essential travel both within Scotland and also into and out of Scotland.
“These rules will come into force from 6pm tomorrow. They will have no set termination point but will be reviewed regularly.
“This is obviously likely to have a major impact on the plans you are working on I am afraid.”
William and Kate’s train tour went ahead as planned despite travel restrictions across the UK.
The Cambridge’s first stop was at Edinburgh train station where they were greeted by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh’s official piper, Louise Marshall, before meeting first responders at the SAS in Newbridge.
Ellen Reeder, cleaner at the SAS, said at the time: “They kept it secret until this morning, which is just as well or I would have got tongue-tied speaking to them.”
While in Edinburgh, William and Kate were named joint patrons of NHS Charities Together.
Prince William news: The couple set off on their royal train tour on December 6, first stopping in Edinburgh
Prince William news: Yesterday saw a further 45,533 coronavirus cases and 1,243 deaths in the UK
First Minister Ms Sturgeon said at the time the Scottish Government had informed the royals of coronavirus restrictions.
She added: “The Royal visit is a matter for the Royal household and the arrangements around it, and any questions about those arrangements, should be directed to the Royal household.”
The UK recorded a further 45,533 coronavirus cases and 1,243 deaths within 28 days of a positive test yesterday.
In total, the UK has seen 3,163,051 cases and 83,203 deaths.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK