The Prince and Princess of Wales have prioritized their relationship with the Welsh since receiving their royal titles last year
On Tuesday morning, the Prince and Princess of Wales, both 41, stepped out in Cardiff, Wales, to meet members of the Windrush generation and learn more about the important work of diverse community groups. The outing celebrates the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush to London and the kickoff of Black History Month, which the U.K. observes in October. Later this month, the Prince of Wales will appear in a special Windrush documentary on ITV as part of Pride of Britain.
Prince William and Princess Kate were all smiles as they arrived at the Grange Pavilion, where they met members of the Windrush Cymru Elders, Black History Cymru 365 and the Ethnic Minority Youth Forum. The royal couple heard about the contributions of the Windrush generation on the Welsh community and how young minority ethnic individuals are driving positive change in Wales.
During a chat with local children, the parents of three connected with a group of elementary school students.
Gracie, 11, from Howardian Primary School, said Kate asked her what subjects she enjoyed. “I said I like maths and like our teachers teaching us. And she said I could teach [Prince] George some maths!”
They also spoke about whether she was “enjoying to learn about the Windrush,” Gracie adds. “I was excited to be here and represent my school.”
William chatted with a young boy about cricket. “Are you a batsman or a bowler?” the prince asked.
Lilly, 8, Amelia, 8, and Summer, 9, from St. Paul’s Church in Wales Primary School (the area's most diverse school with over 33 languages represented) were near the front and got to shake the prince and princess's hands. “I’m not going to wash my hands now,” Lilly tells PEOPLE. “This one of Prince William and this one was Kate,” she adds, holding up her hands.
Summer adds, "Princess Kate asked what sports I like and I said I like football.”
When Fatima, 6, said she was in year one, Kate told her that her youngest “Louis is in the same year.”
The headteacher of St. Paul’s Ruth Wiltshire adds: “You can tell they’re young parents as they have real empathy with the children. English may not be the first language for many of our children or they may be shy but the prince and princess re-phrased their questions and what they said to the children accordingly.”
On June 21, 1948, 1,027 people from the Caribbean debarked the Empire Windrush in London. Many came to the U.K. to fill post-war labor shortages and forge a new life, the House of Lords Library states. The “Windrush generation” became shorthand for the those who relocated to the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1973, especially from Caribbean countries. In 2018, the government of the U.K. made Windrush Day (June 22) a holiday to commemorate the contributions of Windrush Generation and their descendants on national life.
William and Kate’s first conversation on Tuesday was with the Windrush Cymru Elders. The group was formed in 2017 through the Race Council Cymru to promote the understanding of ethnic minority elders' concerns and celebrate the contributions of the Windrush Generation and people of African descent in Wales. The Prince and Princess of Wales learned more about the lived experiences of the elders plus the larger generation’s lasting impact in Wales.
The couple moved to a chat with young people from the Ethnic Minority Youth Forum, a youth advisory group for Race Council Cymru. The forum is made up of young people ranging in age from 11 to 25 working to be a voice of change for youth from minority ethnic groups in Wales.
Prince William and Princess Kate also connected with young people from the Somali community, which comprises a large portion of Grangetown, Cardiff. The royals also got to know members of the Wales Somaliland Youth Links and Cardiff Bay Warriors FC soccer team, who spoke about ongoing community projects involving soccer and youth unemployment, plus forming friendships between young people in Cardiff and Somaliland.
As they left to head to Fitzalan High School, William and Kate were given small posies of flowers, some leeks (the traditional Welsh vegetable) — and a cake.
Prince William had an unexpected question for baker Zara Ali, from The Hideout cafe, as the couple accepted the treat.
“He asked if it was healthy,” Ali tells PEOPLE of the Victoria sponge cake, which was flavored with ginger, cardamon and raspberry. “I said healthy-ish. The fruit on the top is but everything else
is sugar and carbs!”
On Windrush Day in June 2022, Prince William and Princess participated in the unveiling of a memorial honoring the Windrush Generation in London. The prince used the occasion to recognize how the "past weighs heavily on the present" amid the controversy that followed the couple'sCaribbean tour in March 2022, where their presence was met with some protests over colonialism and calls to drop Queen Elizabeth as head of state.
“My family have been proud to celebrate this for decades — whether that be through support from my father on Windrush Day, or more recently during my grandmother's Platinum Jubilee, as people from all communities and backgrounds came together to acknowledge all that has changed over the past seventy years and look to the future," Prince William said at the event.
The Prince of Wales touched on the “hardships” members of the Windrush Generation experienced while settling into the U.K. in the 1950s and 1960s and recognized their vital role in helping rebuild Britain after World War II in an Instagram video on Windrush Day in June.
"We are a better people today because the children and the grandchildren of those who came in 1948 have stayed and become part of who we are in 2023,” William said. "And for that, we are forever grateful.”
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King Charles named his eldest son the Prince of Wales in his first speech as King following the death of Queen Elizabeth last September, making Kate the Princess of Wales in the same sweep.
William and Kate were last in Wales just a few weeks ago to attend a tribute to Queen Elizabeth on the first anniversary of her death. The couple traveled to the ancient St. Davids Cathedral for a private service highlighted by a commemoration of the late monarch’s life.
William opted not to have an investiture as Prince of Wales — unlike his father, who was "crowned" by his mother Queen Elizabeth at Caernarfon Castle when he was 20.
When they were given their new title, those close to William and Kate reiterated their commitment to Wales. A royal source told PEOPLE at the time, "The Prince and Princess of Wales will approach their roles in the modest and humble way they've approached their work previously.”
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