Choristers from Bath Abbey Choir perform during The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Train visit

8 December 2020, 15:34 | Updated: 9 December 2020, 10:57

By Rosie Pentreath

Christmas choral music greets Their Royal Highnesses, as they undertake a working visit to Cleeve Court Care Home in Bath – part of their tour to meet people who have gone above and beyond in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been undertaking working visits across the UK, to pay tribute to the incredible contribution of people who have gone above and beyond in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

And one of their visits, taken via the Royal Train, saw them thank the staff at Cleeve Court Care Home in Bath, where they heard about their experiences of providing care and helping residents to stay connected to their loved ones throughout the pandemic. While the Duke and Duchess met staff and residents, they were greeted by a performance of Christmas carols from Bath Abbey choristers (watch above).

The choristers were performing Christmas music for the home’s residents, who will not be able to make their usual visit to the carol service at Bath Abbey this year. Instead, the choir was delighted to be able to bring the music to the residents directly, and sing safely outside the home.

Speaking exclusively to Classic FM, Bath Abbey Choir’s director, Huw Williams, said: “We feel very privileged to be able to offer our talents to bring joy to others, and especially for those in the care home. Music can bring such comfort to people during this difficult and dark year we’ve experienced together.”

Read more: Prince George enjoys classical music, says Duchess of Cambridge >

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Cleeve Court Residential Care near Bath
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Cleeve Court Residential Care near Bath. Picture: PA

Williams continued: “Music triggers the memory and hearing various musical items takes us back to happier times when we can remember being together with family and friends. Also for those residents of the home, nearing the ends of their lives, it is reassuring for them to hear melodies and words that they would have known since their childhood – such as ‘Away in a Manger’ or ‘Silent night’.”

He added: “It was lovely to greet Their Royal Highnesses who were really charming and friendly. One of our most experienced girls, Daisy, was even able to present them with our latest Bath Abbey Christmas CD!”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have travelled on the Royal Train between last Sunday (6 December) and today (Tuesday 8 December), making stops in England, Scotland and Wales in line with government guidance.

Over the three days, Their Royal Highnesses have travelled 1,250 miles, undertaking working visits to meet frontline workers, volunteers, care home staff, teachers, schoolchildren and young people to hear about their experiences, sacrifices and the inspiring work they have done throughout this challenging year.

“They were very gracious and generous,” choir director Huw Williams told us. “And they were very encouraging, it was lovely to see them. It was a real beautiful moment to be part of; to share some happy memories, and to bring some joy at Christmas in an overwhelmingly joyless year.”

Read more: UK arts venues to receive £1.57bn in emergency government funding >

As well as highlighting charities and communities, Their Royal Highnesses’ visits showcased the UK’s arts, heritage and live performance sector, which has been supported throughout the pandemic by the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. Bath Abbey has been one of the institutions to receive support through the fund.

Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Bath on the Royal Train
Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Bath Spa station on the Royal Train, ahead of a visit to a care home in the city. Picture: PA

Ahead of the visit, a spokesperson for Kensington Palace said: “The Duke and Duchess are very much looking forward to shining a spotlight on the incredible work that has been done across the country throughout this difficult year, and to sharing their gratitude on behalf of the nation for all those supporting their local communities ahead of the Christmas holidays.”

Read more: Classic FM broadcasts two exclusive programmes with HRH The Prince of Wales >

Their Royal Highnesses passed on the nation’s sincere thanks and gratitude for all of their efforts to keep people safe, and keep the country going.

There were festive performances – including the performance by Bath Abbey Choir – to celebrate the inspiring work of the organisations and projects The Duke and Duchess are visiting.

The Royal Train was first used by Queen Victoria in June 1842.