Prince William raised a pint to pub re-openings in England as he visited one of his locals in Norfolk today.
The future king, 38, popped into the Rose & Crown in Snettisham, around six miles from his family’s country home, Anmer Hall, and savoured his first sip of cider at a pub since the coronavirus lockdown.
‘First customer?’ he asked hopefully when he arrived at the 600-year-old pub, one of several in the area that he and Kate have sampled on occasion, to be met by landlords Anthony and Jeannette Goodrich.
They are preparing for a major reopening tomorrow after a difficult three months during which the couple, who have owned the pub for 25 years, had to close completely and furlough more than 25 full-time employees.
The Duke of Cambridge, 38, took a sip of an Aspalls cider during his visit to The Rose and Crown pub in Snettisham, Norfolk today
Prince William put safety first and used hand sanitiser as he entered of his locals – which is around six miles from his family’s country home, Anmer Hall
The future king spoke to the pub’s landlords and staff members about their experiences of the pandemic (pictured)
They were able to reopen partially a couple of weeks ago and start selling takeaway drinks, but will now offer socially distanced drinking in three bars or the pub garden, where a marquee has been erected.
The Duke of Cambridge, who has been a cider drinker since he was in his late teens, went through part of the process that customers will face.
He was asked to cleanse his hands in sanitiser gel before ordering a pint at the bar that was then delivered to him at a table in the garden.
‘Can I have a pint of cider please? I’m a cider man,’ he said, ordering a £4.15 pint of Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder and a plate of chips.
The Goodriches (pictured with Prince William) told the royal how they had been forced to close the thriving pub, which has 16 bedrooms and provides up to 300 meals for visitors at the height of the summer season, after putting 25 years of work into it. Pictured, sanitising his hands on arrival
William, who paid for his drink by card before he left, made the visit as he wanted to show his support for the hospitality industry. Pictured, ordering his cider at the bar
After being asked to cleanse his hands in sanitiser gel before ordering a pint at the bar, it was then delivered to him at a table in the garden (pictured)
The Duke (pictured) heard how the pub has aimed to support its local community, including donating its leftover stock at the start of lockdown to the Purfleet Trust which provides help for single homeless people in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
‘I don’t know where I pay, I’ll do that before I leave, I promise,’ he said, laughing when the pint was brought to him in the garden.
William predicted that people would want to get down to their locals in numbers but expressed his fears that it could get chaotic.
‘It could end up with everyone at the pub,’ he said. ‘Because people just want a change of scene, being at home for so long.
‘Are you worried about people getting a bit out of hand this weekend? I guess it’s more of a problem with the larger pub chains.’
Mr Goodrich, 65, admitted: ‘We are a bit concerned but we are ready for it.’
Some parts of the pub will have to remain closed however, including a popular children’s play area set up like a galleon because of the difficulty in enforcing social distancing among the children. William said his own children loved it.
‘The children have been in there a few times,’ he explained, staring at the ropes preventing anyone entering. ‘They will see that as a challenge.’
The royal told the staff that customers would have to learn to get used to the new normal in pubs.
Prince William (pictured, taking a sip of cider) asked the landlords whether they are worried about people getting a bit out of hand this weekend
Speaking of the play area that will remain closed, Prince William (pictured) said: ‘The children have been in there a few times. They will see that as a challenge’
When the father-of-three (pictured) arrived at the 600-year-old pub, he joked: ‘First customer?’
The pub is preparing for a major reopening tomorrow after a difficult three months during which the couple, who have owned the pub for 25 years, had to close completely and furlough more than 25 full-time employees. Pictured, the royal taking a sip of cider
‘We all have to take responsibility for our own two metre bubble,’ he remarked.
William, who paid for his drink by card before he left, made the visit as he wanted to show his support for the hospitality industry.
The Goodriches told him how they had been forced to close the thriving pub, which has 16 bedrooms and provides up to 300 meals for visitors at the height of the summer season, after putting 25 years of work into it.
But they were rescued by the Government furlough job retention scheme and loans for businesses in trouble.
‘For us for two or three weeks it was very scary, thinking is this it?’ Anthony said. ‘Then the Government came out with the job retention scheme.
‘That was a great relief because it meant that we could pay our staff some money and they are all nice, lovely local people.’
The Prince of Wales, meanwhile, has welcomed the re-opening of the hospitality industry, describing it as the ‘lifeblood of our economy’.
Charles said it was ‘exceptionally welcome news’ that hotels, restaurants and pubs were re-opening.
And he described it as the first step towards rebuilding a ‘vital and resilient industry’ for ‘brighter and much more sustainable times ahead’.
During Prince William’s visit, staff (pictured with the royal) spoke of their excitement about being able to return to work and outlined the measures which they have implemented across the business in order to ensure they are able to safely welcome back their patrons
The royal ordered a £4.15 pint of Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder and a plate of chips during his visit (pictured)
The royal learned about how staff (pictured) have adapted their operations in order to allow them to return to a new normal
The pub’s current owners, Jeannette and Anthony Goodrich (pictured), who took over as landlords 25 years ago, spoke to His Royal Highness about the challenges that the business has faced throughout lockdown
The heir to the throne was speaking in a video message of support for the sector.
In it he said: ‘The past weeks and months, I am only too aware, have been exceptionally difficult for everybody working in the hospitality sector – from people in the restaurant and pub industries, which make Britain famous worldwide, to those providing accommodation for millions of domestic and international visitors each year.
‘Hospitality, as we know all too well, plays a crucial part in our country’s economic health and is often described as the lifeblood of the economy.
‘It employs millions of people and, indeed, offers many young people aged 18 to 24 their first job opportunity.’
Welcoming the re-opening of businesses, he continued: ‘I need hardly say that it is exceptionally welcome news that hotels, restaurants and pubs are to begin opening their doors.
William (pictured) predicted that people would want to get down to their locals in numbers but expressed his fears that it could get chaotic
During his visit, William (pictured), who has been a cider drinker since he was in his late teens, went through part of the process that customers will face
‘Hospitality connects people and enables them to create wonderful memories with families and friends, be it over a pint of beer, a special meal with family or an overnight stay to explore new places. All these experiences have been dearly missed as normal life has been put on hold.’
‘I know that those at the forefront of hospitality have missed their guests too, so I can only express my warmest appreciation for the resilience and fortitude shown by those in hospitality and offer my deepest sympathy to those who are struggling to keep their businesses going, or are having to cope with the appalling misery of seeing their businesses go into administration.
‘I only pray we can begin to rebuild a vital and resilient industry and that the wonderful entrepreneurial spirit I come across so often can help secure brighter and much more sustainable times ahead.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you so much for all you do for this country.’