Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hand out gifts to troops away from home at Christmas

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the RAF base in Cyprus (PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a whirlwind trip to a RAF base in Cyprus on Wednesday, to meet with serving personnel and families.

RAF Akrotiri is home of the Cyprus Operations Support Unit which provides joint support to British Forces Cyprus and operations in the region to protect the UK’s strategic interests.

Kate and William spoke with deployed personnel from 11 and 31 Squadrons, who are engaged on operations in support of Operation Shader, the UK’s contribution to the ongoing campaign against Daesh. 

Kate and William speak to serving personnel and families living at RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus (Getty)

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During a speech, the Duke thanked the British troops for their sacrifices they make over Christmas.

He said: “You all put duty first. And so do your families, some of whom we had the chance to meet yesterday at a party at Kensington Palace. We know this isn’t easy for you or for your wives, husbands, children, and friends back in the UK.

“On behalf of everyone back home, we would like to say thank you.

“Thank you for your commitment and thank you for your sacrifices. We are in your debt and Catherine and I feel very lucky to be able to spend time with you today.”

Kate meets families (PA)

The couple also came bearing Christmas gifts for RAF personnel from the families they met yesterday, as they hosted a special party at Kensington Palace.

Corporal Karl Noakes, 33, from RAF Marham,  told Mail Online he had been sent pictures of his daughter Alysia, two, at the festive bash and praised the Duke and Duchess for organising it.

He said: “It meant so much to everyone. My daughter had so much fun but was shattered last night. I think they really understand what it is like for all of us.”

The Duchess of Cambridge visits the Sergeant’s Mess at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus (PA)

The Duchess looked chic in an olive-green Smythe blazer, a white shirt and navy wide-legged trousers for the overseas trip. She accessorised with £195 LK Bennett courts and a matching £119 clutch bag.

Kate and William officially opened the Oasis centre, which is used on the base as a recreation centre, before meeting with station personnel, their families and representatives from British Forces at the Sergeant’s Mess.

There was also time for a short walkabout before the couple returned home to London.

William and Kate at the Christmas party on Tuesday (Getty)

At yesterday’s party, the Duchess gave a speech in which she told military families how much they are valued and recalled what it was like when William was deployed away from home when serving in the RAF.

She said: “As someone whose husband has served, I know how hard it feels when someone leaves home for the job they have trained for.

“But I can’t imagine how it feels when your loved ones are away on active service over Christmas or at special family moments.

“The absence of people we love must be especially hard at this time of year.”

The couple even got involved in a fake snowball fight as they departed.

Kate at the Diplomatic Reception (PA)

On Tuesday night, Kate and William joined the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at the Queen’s annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace.

The Duchess looked regal in a bespoke embellished Jenny Packham gown and Princess Diana’s Lover’s Knot tiara and Collingwood pearl and diamond drop earrings.