William and Kate abseil together off cliff in Brecon Beacons

They were guided through the process by the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team.

Bronwen Weatherby
Thursday 27 April 2023 18:50 BST
The Princess of Wales during a visit to Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team headquarters in Merthyr Tydfil (Ben Birchall/PA)
The Princess of Wales during a visit to Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team headquarters in Merthyr Tydfil (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The Prince and Princess of Wales have abseiled together off a cliff in the Brecon Beacons, while meeting mountain rescuers.

William and Kate arrived at a wet and windy area of the Bannau Brycheiniog near Merthyr Tydfil in the South Wales Valleys on Thursday wearing hiking gear, and put on safety equipment ready for the descent.

They were guided through the process by the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team, a volunteer-run organisation which responds to calls 24 hours a day, all year round.

The group covers the central area of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park which includes Pen y Fan, the highest point in southern Britain, and the Ystradfellte waterfalls, and has been keeping the surrounding communities safe for 60 years since 1963.

When asked by instructors if he had abseiled before, William said: “It’s been a while.”

Before heading over the edge Kate, who was wearing a red mountain rescue coat like her husband with her hair tied in a ponytail, was heard telling William: “We’re not racing.”

They also engaged in other training activities such as medical support exercises and watched a search dog rescue demonstrations, while hearing from current and former team members about their experiences spanning the organisation’s six-decade history.

Kate took part in a simulated casualty rescue and used a radio to alert her husband to the kit she required.

The Princess could be heard saying: “Do you know what’s on the list, over?”

She added: “It’s like our weekly shopping list. It’s like going to the supermarket.”

The rescue kit was hastily brought by William, before they both helped put it together so they could evacuate the dummy casualty – who had suffered a leg injury.

The royal couple then helped the casualty on a stretcher to safety.

The Prince is patron of Mountain Rescue England and Wales, and worked closely with such teams during his time as an air ambulance pilot.

The Prince and Princess then met two retired members, Bob Thomas, 75, and Nick Richards, 79, who had been part of the rescue team at the Aberfan disaster in 1966.

After leaving the Brecon Beacons, they travelled the short distance to Dowlais Rugby Club in Merthyr Tydfil where many of the mountain rescue team socialise when off-duty.

William and Kate immediately went to the Little Dragon Pizza Van parked in the car park and ordered 12 pizzas to say thank you to the volunteers.

The order, which included three margherita, three pepperoni, three BBQ chicken and three goats cheese came to more than £120.

Owner Peter Morris, 45, from Brynmawr, and his employee Shannon Stokes, 25, who normally feed walkers and tourists from a spot on the Bannau north of Crickhowell, said they had fed the rescue team before.

Mr Morris said: “There was an incident up in an old quarry which is just behind our pitch where a young boy dislocated his knee.

“It was a quick call but as a gesture we gave them free pizzas because they work all hours of the day.”

The royals carried the pizzas into the rugby club for the rescuers and met other members of the team and community.

Before leaving, William and Kate posed for photos and spoke with members of the public who had gathered outside to catch a glimpse of them.

Isla Cheeke, nine, from Merthyr, came with her mother Amy, 38, and 10-year-old brother Noah and handed William a letter in which she asked if she could marry Prince George.

“I love the royal family and I think Kate is beautiful,” Isla said afterwards.

Detective Constable Carolyn Brown, 50, and Sergeant Clare Edwards, from South Wales Police, were off-duty and spoke with William about the coronation.

“We were talking about the coronation, and we said we had been hoping to get an invite to the garden party and William just said, ‘Of course’ and got someone to take our details,” Det Con Brown said.

“We thought we would be cheeky and ask as we’re huge royalists.”

The royal couple will be staying in a local bed and breakfast this evening.

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