The Countess of Wessex became the second royal to visit a pub to support the hospitality industry after the Duke of Cambridge's outing in Norfolk last week. Sophie, 55, drove herself in her Jaguar to the Half Moon in Windlesham on Wednesday, just a short drive from her and Prince Edward's home, Bagshot Park.
The royal mum-of-two met the pub's owners and staff and fellow members of the Bagshot Women's Institute during the socially distanced visit in the garden. Sophie heard from staff about how the business has been affected during lockdown, and the new measures in place for reopening.
Sophie sanitised her hands upon arrival
Conrad Sturt, whose mother Helga bought the pub in 1971, said that when they were forced to close it was "like a stab to the heart". He added: "The support of our locals, and our community, has been exceptional. We managed to do a takeaway and a collection service which has kept us going. It is safe to come back to pubs, provided the pubs are managing the situation properly."
Sophie was enamoured by puppy Hendrix
At one point, Sophie became acquainted with the family's 15-week-old cocker spaniel puppy, Hendrix. "You are gorgeous," she told the puppy. "Can I just say you are really lucky you are on the end of a lead, otherwise I might take you home."
Sophie spoke with members of Baghot WI
The Countess, who is part of the Bagshot WI herself, spoke to four members about how they have been supporting the local community through sewing scrub bags and PPE, and baking for key workers. They included Ann Bull, 81, who was enjoying a sandwich and some chips accompanied by a gin and tonic. As soon as she spotted the drink, Sophie said: "I'm driving - otherwise I would have been joining you. On local engagements I drive myself most of the time."
Last week, the Duke of Cambridge stopped by the Rose & Crown in Snettisham, ahead of the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers on 4 July. Prince William enjoyed a pint of cider and a plate of chips as he spoke to the landlords about the effect of the pandemic on their business and the new safety measures that had been put in place.
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