The Duke of Cambridge wrapped up a two-day jaunt to Finland today, carrying out the leg of a previously-scheduled Scandinavian tour that was mostly postponed due to the Duchess’s pregnancy. Finland, however, stayed on William’s calendar due to the country’s ongoing centenary celebrations, while Sweden and Norway were pushed until early next year.
Normally I don’t cover William’s solo engagements, but I do find these Brexit “charm offenses” the Royal Family has been deployed to carry out interesting and so to my Finnish readers out there, this is for you.
This also marked William’s first opportunity to follow up on the statement he and Kate put out congratulating Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their engagement – so far, he is winning the comment game. William told waiting reporters:
“We’re all very excited, delighted for them both and wishing them all the happiness in this very exciting time. And for me personally I hope it means he stays out of my fridge, it will stop him scrounging off all my food, he’s done over the last few years. […] It’s a fantastic process you go through, the engagement and the build up to the wedding and things like that. So they’ve got a lot of happy times ahead of them and I think they’re very caught up in the moment and I wish them all the happiness and success in planning the wedding, I hope it goes really well.”
I sincerely hope the fridge anecdote is true.
Anyway, Finland. William was greeted by President of the Republic, Sauli Niinistö, and presented him with a message of congratulations from the Queen to mark the milestone.
Next up was a trip to an ice rink to see Icehearts, a hockey-focused child welfare charity. When asked to try his hand against the goalie, he obliged, scoring two out of four attempted goals. Granted, the goalie was a 10-year-old 😉
He also took a moment to greet a group of children associated with the organization who came to the rink to greet the royal visitor.
From there, HRH headed to a reception at the British ambassador’s residence and delivered the below speech:
Day One ended with a dinner hosted by President Niinistö at the Presidential Palace.
Kate, meanwhile, was spotted out and about with her mother, Carole Middleton, a few hours after she carried out yesterday’s engagement. Gone was the Barbour and in its place was a black and white plaid coat and the hint of what appears to be some sort of burgundy top (dress?). From what I can see, I like it, so I hope we get a better glimpse of this jacket in the future. Anyway, I thought this surprise glimpse of the two leaving Kensington Palace Wednesday afternoon to be rather adorable – with William out of the country, it looks like Carole popped by for a visit, perhaps to lend a hand with the children. You can see the photos here.
Moving on to today and Day Two started with William attending a tech conference for Slush, a leading startup event. I am mainly interested in highlighting this because a key theme for it was apparently encouraging the Finnish to be more outspoken about their success and the conference was using #BragForFinland in social media posts. Amazing. Anyway, a highlight for William was likely getting to meet the creator of Angry Birds.
Next up shows, I think, where Kate would have especially fit in to this itinerary because it was a stop by a primary school to learn about the Finnish education system. Sitting in on English language lessons, William also learned about how schools are teaching children to code and preparing them for a tech-intensive future.
From there it was time for a Christmas market in Helsinki’s Esplanade Park where the Duke met none other than Santa Claus. And in an adorable and carefully choreographed moment, William presented Father Christmas with a handwritten note from the four-year-old Prince George, who described himself as having been “nice” this year and desiring but one gift: a police car. I like it – the future monarch already has a healthy appreciation for law enforcement.
Notably, at the same festival, William met with Crown Prince Daniel of Sweden, the husband of Crown Princess Victoria. The two are due to meet again in a few weeks when the Cambridges make a formal visit, but this was certainly a nice hint of what’s to come.
And finally, in a nod to William’s former career with the Royal Air Force and as an air ambulance pilot, he visited the Finnish Air Force. The last engagement of the day, he then returned to the UK and is now back home at KP. Tomorrow brings us Harry and Meghan’s first formal engagement in Nottingham, but no word yet on what’s on tap for next week.
All in all, I thought this two-day trip to Finland was a success. The assortment of engagements and organizations highlighted made sense for William and offered up a nice snapshot of Helsinki as the country celebrated an important milestone in its history.
After William’s departure, Kensington Palace tweeted out that he and Kate will be attending the Children’s Global Media Summit on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
One small postscript I want to add is this photo from when William helped his grandmother, the Queen, send off the German President earlier this week (briefly mentioned in this post). The look of complete adoration the Queen has for her grandson here is just very sweet: