The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have set off on their national tour to thank communities and individuals for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
The tour by royal train began on Sunday evening from London Euston station and will cover 1,250-miles over three days.
Before William and Kate boarded the service, Shakin’ Stevens – the singer who had a string of hits in the ’80s – sang his festive hit single Merry Christmas Everyone for the couple and a group of transport workers.
Stevens, whose real name is Michael Barratt, said: “I’m loving it, it was lovely to be invited.”
“It needs something to cheer us up doesn’t it? Because what we’ve got, we don’t know how long it’s going to go on for, so you have got to keep your pecker up.”
During the event, William told Orson Parris, a network traffic controller for Transport for London: “Fingers crossed 2021 gets things back to normal.”
The first stop for the duke and duchess has not been disclosed.
Network Rail staff altered the departure boards for the occasion, changing Wolverhampton to Warmerhampton, Coventry to Coventry Carol and Northampton to Northpolehampton.
It is believed the trip is Kate’s first official journey by royal train but William has used it a number of times, including on the day of the funeral of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.
The couple thanked transport workers for their efforts in keeping passengers safe.
William told Alero Abbey, TfL area manager for Green Park and Euston: “It’s moments like this when people really appreciate what you do every day. Suddenly we all know what you do and that you do a really good job.”
During their tour William and Kate will highlight the impact of extraordinary public generosity, showcasing charities such as NHS Together and meeting frontline workers, teachers, mental health professionals, care workers and schoolchildren.
They will also celebrate examples of community spirit by showcasing the arts, heritage and the live performance sector.