The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have heard the personal stories of paramedics on the first day of their mini tour of the UK.
The royal couple met Scottish paramedics in Newbridge, near Edinburgh, their first stop on a three-day train tour of England, Scotland and Wales.
They thanked staff for their efforts in doing their job during the pandemic while also bearing the burden of being affected by tragedy themselves.
It emerged during the visit that the duke and duchess had sent a bouquet of flowers to the family of a veteran paramedic who died last month after re-enlisting in April, four years after his retirement.
Rod Moore, from Falkirk, died aged 63 after contracting coronavirus. His funeral was due to take place during the royal visit.
Kate was also revealed to have been secretly volunteering since the start of the pandemic for a call service that helps tackle loneliness.
Len Gardner, 85, told The Sun that the duchess had made two calls to him earlier in the year.
The royal later sent the pensioner a pasta machine and flour from the Buckingham Palace kitchen.
“Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be talking on the phone to the future Queen of England,” Mr Gardner said.
“I will treasure our conversations for the rest of my life. Those calls helped me because they gave me something to look forward to.”
The duke and duchess of Cambridge set off for their royal tour from Euston station in London on Sunday night.
Before boarding the royal train, the couple wrote a personal message of thanks to transport workers on a London Underground service information board.
It read: "Thank you to all transport workers everywhere for keeping the country moving throughout this difficult year.
"Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Catherine. William"
Kensington Palace announced the trip on Saturday, December 5, saying the couple wanted to pay "tribute to the inspiring work of those who have gone above and beyond to support communities during this challenging year for the nation".
They will meet "frontline workers, teachers, mental health professionals, care workers, schoolchildren and young people across England, Scotland and Wales to pass on the nation’s thanks for their efforts this year".
William and Kate boarded the train, which has been used by British monarchs since Queen Victoria, at London’s Euston Station on Sunday, December 6.
As the couple embarked upon their journey, 1980s pop star Shakin' Stevens was on hand to perform his Christmas classic, Merry Christmas Everyone, for transport workers at the station.
The Daily Mail reported that Stevens, 72, was "over the moon" to play for the couple.
"I’m loving it, it was lovely to be invited," the Welsh singer said. "And it was them who chose the song."
The tour is expected to stop in a number of cities across the UK, including Edinburgh, Manchester and Cardiff. In a typical year, the couple would have made a number of official UK visits and trips, but the majority have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The official Kensington Royal Twitter account shared a video of them boarding the Royal Train to start their journey:
What did Kate Middleton wear to start the tour?
Setting off on a chilly London night, the Duchess of Cambridge wore a dark green coat by Alexander McQueen, which she previously wore in January and March this year.
It was worn over Ralph Lauren Collection boots, with a Grace Han handbag. She also wore her Maple Leaf tartan scarf by York Scarves, which she first wore during the couple's 2016 Canada tour, and an Amaia Kids mask in a new Liberty of London print.
The Duke of Cambridge wore a dark navy wool coat to set off, over blue chinos with a burgundy scarf, along with a blue fabric face mask.