Prince William joined his grandmother Queen Elizabeth on a visit to a top, secret lab in an English town on Thursday. The 38-year-old royal and the 94-year-old monarch headed out to Salisbury, located around 85 miles southwest of London for what is their first joint public outing in two years, as well as the first public outing for the Queen since the lockdown started in March.
While at the secret lab, all pandemic guidelines and protocols were followed, sources says, with everyone who met with the Queen and her grandson being prior tested for the virus and turning out negative.
The Queen, being the fashion icon she is, understandably made her return fabulous, wearing a Stewart Parvin old rose cashmere coat and a silk dress of autumnal woodland florals combined with a matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan.
The two royal were there to pay tribute to staff who worked in the aftermath of the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter with Novichok nerve agent two years ago. After hours of hard work by doctors and specialists, Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, then 33, survived the attack from March 2018. Unfortunately a innocent member of the public, who also came into contact with the nerve agent, tragically died four months later. To this day the culprits of this heighnous act are unknown.
Much of the work done at the Defence Science and Technology Labaratory (Dstl), near Salisbury, is very secretive and confidental, and as soon as they arrived, the two royals were taken on a tour to the Energetics Enclosure, where they learned about the weaponry and tactics used in counterintelligence.
At the facilitiy’s Energetics Analysis Centre, the Queen was showed a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation and talked to staff who work in counterterrorism and security. Amongst those she some with were some of the staff and armed forces members who identified the nerve agent and aided the subsequent clear up of the Novichok incident from two years ago.
As a way of thanking them for their service, Prince William presented the Firmin Sword of Peace to members of the army’s 102 Logistic Brigade. The ceremonial weapon is given to armed forces’ units, which have showed great valor and commitement to their duty during operations.
The Duke of Cambridge and the Queen also spoke with scientists providing vital support to the U.K.’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, working hard in analytical research areas, as well as deploying microbiologists to NHS hospitals to increase testing capactities.
As a way of marking their visit to the secret lab, the two royals signed a visitors’ book, with the Queen commenting: “Well, it proves we’ve been here, doesn’t it?” as they left.
According to royal sources, the initial plan for the visit was to take place in April this year, but due to the pandemic crisis had to be pushed back, with the Queen being unable to fulfill it until now.
This is an important bonding moment for Prince William, who one day will himself be sitting on the throne, so this comes as a way of monarch-training. The last time these two joined up for a public appearance was two years ago, when they made a moving visit to the Gernfell Tower soon after a fire struck the London appartment block, in the process killing more than 70 people, in 2017.
The two have been more active together in closed-doors meetings, attending a number of lunches at the palace together. Last year, for example, Prince William welcomed Governor General-designate of Australia, General David Hurley, and his wife at the palace, alongside the Queen.
Back in 2011, William welcomed the Queen and his grandfather Prince Phillip when they visited the Royal Air Force base in North Wales, where the Duke was appointed at the time, shortly before his wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011, and then later on they visited the air ambulance station in Cambridgeshire, where the Prince worked, a few years ago.