Royal reindeer surprise for school pupils as William and Kate drop in
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge surprised primary school children with a Christmas treat of a reindeer visit.
William and Kate went to Holy Trinity First School in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where they thanked teachers for their efforts to support learning during the coronavirus crisis.
The couple are travelling around the country on the royal train, expressing their gratitude to people who kept the country going during lockdown.
As a treat for the Berwick school’s 175 pupils, Kensington Palace arranged for Rent A Reindeer to take three animals to the site.
The trio munched on hay bales and their favourite treat of Arctic moss while they were penned in under a tent.
As local saxophone group The Earl Grey Saxes played Christmas tunes, including Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, William and Kate chatted to pupils and teachers in the playground.
Some of the children wore antlers on their heads and some donned Santa hats for the lunchtime visit.
The duke and duchess sanitised their hands as they entered the school grounds, a short drive from Berwick railway station.
After the visit, headteacher Nicholas Shaw said: “It has been fantastic and the children loved it.
“We feel honoured to have been chosen and appreciate they are taking the time to think about teachers and the work that has been going on in schools.
“It has been a challenge during lockdown, a lot of new skills have been learned.
“We stayed open throughout for children of key workers and vulnerable children.”
Rent a Reindeer owner George Richardson took along Chaz, Crackers and her six-month-old calf Echols, and told William and Kate about caring for them and how coronavirus has affected his business.
Mr Richardson, who is based in Cold Hesledon, County Durham, said the booking by the palace had been “top secret”.
He said: “We got a phone call out of the blue two weeks ago. They asked us to bring a reindeer for the royal visit and we were happy to oblige.
“We brought these three as a group, although Chaz is not the dad as he has been castrated – he is the uncle.
“Mum and baby go with him and they are a nice group.
“This was baby’s first outing and she took it in her stride.”
Animal rights charity Peta criticised the decision to arrange for the reindeer to visit the school.
Peta’s director Elisa Allen said: “While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may enjoy touring the country to greet onlookers, reindeer do not.
“These gentle, sensitive animals are meant to roam vast distances, and they become deeply stressed, even traumatised, when penned and carted from one unfamiliar venue to another, rather than being allowed to avoid human contact, as they do in nature.
“There’s no excuse for treating animals as decorations, and Peta urges Kensington Palace – and everyone else – to show compassion this festive season by leaving captive-animal displays off their Christmas list.”