Prince William: queen procession evoked memories of mother Diana's funeral

New Prince of Wales makes admission to the crowd whilst viewing floral tributes at Sandringham House

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Prince William and his wife Kate visited a sea of flowers left for Queen Elizabeth II at the main gates to Sandringham House, with her grandson telling mourners that walking behind his grandmother's coffin brought back memories of his mother Diana's funeral.

The new Prince and Princess of Wales stepped out of a dark Range Rover near to the Norwich Gates and took time to read messages on the many tributes.

Thousands of mourners gathered behind metal barriers to see the couple, who stayed for almost an hour speaking to people.

Prince William told retired dry cleaner Peggy Butcher: “This sea of flowers is unbelievable.”

He told another tearful crowd member: “Don’t cry now — you’ll start me.”

He also extended his thanks to everyone for going to the Norfolk estate on Thursday.

Ms Butcher, 89, of Cambridgeshire, said afterwards: “He seemed to care about us because we cared about the queen.”

Receptionist Jane Wells, 54, of Long Sutton in Lincolnshire, said: “I said how proud his mother would have been of him, and he said how hard it was yesterday because it brought back memories of his mother's funeral.”

Prince William poses for a selfie as he chats with mourners outside Norwich Gate on the Sandringham Estate. AFP

Caroline Barwick-Walters, 66, of Neath in Wales, said: “He told us how difficult it was yesterday, how it brought back memories of walking behind his mother's coffin.”

She said she told Prince William “thank you for sharing your grief with the nation”, and that he replied “she was everybody's grandmother”.

Gregory Hill, head teacher of Howard Junior School in King's Lynn, was with a group of children aged 7 to 9, and he said that the royal pair noticed a Paddington Bear tribute they had made.

“It's got our same logo on the badge as our school uniform and they both commented about that,” he said.

Princess Kate then invited 8-year-old Elizabeth Sulkovska to walk with her to place a corgi teddy and a bouquet among the tributes.

“Elizabeth was overwhelmed, she cried with joy at being chosen,” said Mr Hill. “It's just a wonderful, amazing opportunity.”

He said that the queen's death has “touched a young generation as well” and added: “The older generation obviously knew the queen for longer but young children that haven't experienced the queen for long on the throne still are greatly moved by her passing and really want to do their best to celebrate her life and legacy and never forget her.”

Princess Kate shakes hands and speaks to members of the public. AFP

Elizabeth said she was “very happy” to have placed the tributes with the princess.

Mental health counsellor Julie Young, 51, from March in Cambridgeshire, said: “We asked about the children and how the children are coping with it all.

“He said he thinks [Prince] George understands but the other two not really, [they] don't understand.”

Karen Anvil, who took a photo of the so-called Fab Four of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Christmas Day in 2017, was in the crowd again.

She said that as she was speaking to Prince William she was “just chatting away and I just said 'I'm so sorry, I'm such a chatterer'.”

“He said 'I love chatterers',” said Ms Anvil, 44, from Watlington in Norfolk.

“So technically the Prince of Wales has told me he loved me today. That's what I'm going to take from it.”

Her daughter Rachel Murdoch, 21, said Princess Kate told them the children were in their first week at school and “they're settling in and they've got some new friends”.

The royal couple waved to the crowds before climbing into a Range Rover to leave.

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Updated: September 15, 2022, 10:53 PM