Just as Scotland is again talking about exiting the United Kingdom, Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge are turning up for a week-long visit to the north, including a sentimental return to the University of St. Andrews, where they met and fell in love 20 years ago.
Kensington Palace has announced the future king and queen, who celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in April, will visit Edinburgh and Fife, make their first official joint trip to Orkney, and “take a trip down memory lane” by returning to St. Andrews to meet with current students and hear how they’ve coped during the COVID-19 pandemic year.
It looks to be a trip packed with ceremonial duties and attention for their charitable and civic causes, plus plenty of fun, including electric vehicle racing, land yachting and taking in Disney’s “Cruella” at a drive-in movie theater at a royal palace.
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Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge pose for a portrait released on April 28, 2021, to mark their 10th wedding anniversary on April 29. (Photo: CHRIS FLOYD/Camera Press, Kensington Palace/AFP via Getty)
Such royal trips are typically planned long in advance, but this one is taking place as another struggle over whether Scotland will remain part of the U.K. is stewing.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, says a second independence referendum is “a matter of when, not if,” after her party won its fourth straight parliamentary election earlier this month. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is just as determined to block it.
So, coincidental or not, the popular Will and Kate’s visit could help bolster Scottish support for a united kingdom.
The Cambridges – he arrives Friday, she will join him on Monday – are scheduled to meet with a variety of people and organizations working on issues they care about, such as the environment, mental health, homelessness and addiction.
William and Kate, known as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn when in Scotland, will host events to thank National Health Service staff, frontline workers, emergency responders, volunteers and the military for their efforts in the last year.
According to the palace, the duke will invite emergency responders to watch the Scottish Cup Final with him at a rooftop bar. Both will host NHS staff from Scotland to watch a special screening of “Cruella” at Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse, the sovereign’s official residence in Scotland.
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Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, known as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn when in Scotland, arrive to officially open V&A Dundee on Jan. 29, 2019, in Dundee, Scotland. (Photo: Jane Barlow/ WPA Pool/Getty Images)
They will visit projects aimed at fighting climate change, including racing an Extreme E electric vehicle at the Knockhill Racing Circuit in Fife. They will join young carers from Fife for a session of land yachting (moving across land in a wheeled vehicle powered by wind) on the beach. On Orkney, they will check out the European Marine Energy Centre, the research center focused on wave and tidal power.
They also will hear about how Fields in Trust, an environmental project for which William serves as president (after it was passed to him from his late grandfather Prince Philip), protects parks and green spaces in the U.K.
In a statement, Kensington Palace said the couple are “very much looking forward to spending time in Scotland, hearing from a wide range of people on the issues they care about, and celebrating individuals who have gone above and beyond to support their communities over the past year.”
The visit starts when William, in his role as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, arrives to carry out ceremonial duties, including speeches at the opening and closing ceremonies of the church’s general assembly.
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