The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were serenaded by Shakin’ Stevens tonight as they boarded the royal train for their first UK tour with a very festive send-off.
The couple were clearly delighted as the 72-year-old Welsh singer performed his classic hit Merry Christmas Everyone on the platform at Euston station.
The Duchess, wearing an Alexander McQueen coat and tartan scarf, tapped her foot and swayed to the music as they waved to passengers from a balcony.
The Cambridges set off on a three-day journey to pay tribute to those who have gone “above and beyond” this year, kicking off with a special tribute to transport workers who have kept the country moving.
Before climbing aboard for their first journey on the royal train, they spent time chatting to staff from Transport for London, Network Rail and train operating companies about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic.
On behalf of the nation, they passed on their thanks for everything they have done to keep trains in London running and the measures taken to ensure passengers could travel safely with confidence.
The Duke told Alero Abbey, TfL area manager for Green Park and Euston: “It’s moments like this when people really appreciate what you do every day. Suddenly we all know what you do and that you do a really good job.”
The couple appeared shocked to hear from London Overground driver Glyn Smith, who told them he had managed to avoid hitting a young child on the line in June.
“You saved his life?” the Duke asked. “How fast were you going at the time?”
Mr Smith told them he was driving at around 20mph, adding: “It could have been so much worse.”
“Well done,” the Duke said. “Very impressive.”
Network Rail staff altered the departure boards for the occasion, changing Wolverhampton to Warmerhampton, Coventry to Coventry Carol and Northampton to Northpolehampton.
Stevens, 72, said he was “over the moon” to be playing for the Duke and Duchess, revealing that it was the first time he had played for royalty in his long career.
“I’m loving it, it was lovely to be invited,” he said.
“And it was them who chose the song. Over the moon.”
Stevens said the Cambridges were “certainly fans” of his festive hit, adding: “They picked it!”
Asked how he felt when he got the call asking him to perform for the couple as they kicked off their UK tour at Euston station, he added: “Absolutely hanging from the moon.”
He said of their tour: “It’s lovely to give back isn’t it? It’s nice to give back and they are leading the way.
“It needs something to cheer us up doesn’t it? Because what we’ve got, we don’t know how long it’s going to go on for, so you have got to keep your pecker up.”
Stevens was the biggest selling singles artist of the 1980s and his hits compilation Singled Out is currently at no.10 in the album charts.
Merry Christmas Everyone reached the top of the charts in 1985 – the fourth and last number one single for Stevens – real name Michael Barratt – and has since remained a firm festive favourite.
It’s release was delayed for a year to avoid clashing with Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas.
Stevens said in 2018: “I always thought it would be nice to have a Christmas number one.
“If nobody remembers you for the rest of the year, they’ll remember you at Christmas.”
Over the next two days, the Duke and Duchess will traverse the UK, travelling 1,250 miles and taking in ten stops in England, Scotland and Wales.
Along the way, they will highlight the impact of extraordinary public generosity during the coronavirus pandemic, showcasing charities such as NHS Together and meeting frontline workers, teachers, mental health professionals, care workers and schoolchildren.
They will also celebrate examples of community spirit by showcasing the arts, heritage and live performance sector.
At their final stop, they are expected to meet the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
-- to www.mirror.co.uk