The Prince of Wales has told funeral workers in Windsor that he got “choked up” seeing Paddington Bear tributes to the Queen as he carried out his first engagement since her funeral.
William and his wife the Princess of Wales greeted volunteers and operational staff and praised their work during events surrounding the Queen’s committal service in Windsor.
The pair, who wore black as they continued to observe the royal mourning period, met about 30 people at Windsor Guildhall on Thursday afternoon.
Vice Lord Lieutenant Graham Barker and Windsor council’s lead royal funeral planner, Andrew Scott, introduced them to staff and volunteers representing different sectors who supported the crowds on Monday.
They included St John Ambulance volunteers, council workers, stewards, Crown Estate staff and logistics teams.
William told a member of the logistics team that “certain moments catch you out” as they spoke about the last few days.
The prince said: “If you flip it on its head, it is always very comforting that so many people care. It makes it a lot better.
“There are certain moments that catch you out. You are prepared for all but certain moments catch you out.”
He added: “It is the things you don’t expect that get to you,” adding that he got “choked up” over the Paddington tributes.
Speaking later to council workers, William also joked about there being a new “competition” between Paddington Bear and the corgis.
He said Paddington is “a new addition” but “the corgis have been there for longer”.
William and Kate also spoke to members of the Crown Estate, who helped to organise the floral tributes in Windsor, about the number of flowers left by members of the public.
The heir to the throne described the colours as “amazing”, with Kate adding: “The spotlight was on Windsor and it looked incredible, so well done.”
The prince thanked the team for their work, saying people “don’t see all the hard work that goes into it”, before adding: “We appreciate all the hours you have put in.”
When the Crown Estate staff thanked the pair for coming to say thank you, Kate said: “It’s the least we could do. We should have been volunteering.”
They also spoke to a group of Royal Borough ambassadors, and the princess asked if many people in the crowds were locals. The ambassadors told her that people in the crowd had turned up from all over the world.
“It’s amazing how many people wanted to come and pay their respects,” the princess said.
William said later: “It’s been a busy few days but you guys have been doing long hours as well, so thank you so much.”
Speaking to the transport workers who helped to organise road closures and car parks, he said: “We were quite worried that with everyone coming here it would shut down the whole town, but it kept moving.”
Kate added: “We were grateful we could still got the children to and from school.”
The engagement was one of William’s first since he became the heir apparent and became known as the Prince of Wales – with Kate as the Princess of Wales – after the death of his grandmother and the accession of his father, Charles.
Other royals are also undertaking engagements on Thursday to thank people involved in the Queen’s funeral and to recognise the service of those on deployment overseas.
The Earl of Wessex is visiting Estonia and Germany in his role as Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion of The Rifles and Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.
The Princess Royal is travelling to Portsmouth Naval Base to meet Royal Navy personnel who took part in the funeral procession, and then to St Omer Barracks, Aldershot, to thank those who provided logistical support during the funeral.