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Prince William and Kate Middleton kick off festive UK tour with special guest

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge departed from Euston station on Sunday

Emily Nash

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge got into the Christmas spirit tonight as they set off on their three day tour of Britain on the royal train.

The royal couple asked 80s pop star Shakin' Stevens to perform his festive hit Merry Christmas Everyone for transport workers at London's Euston Station as they thanked them for keeping trains running during the coronavirus pandemic.

As Shaky performed, Kate, in an Alexander McQueen coat and tartan scarf, swayed along to the music as she and William watched from a balcony above the concourse and waving to people below.

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The royal couple also chatted to Transport for London employees and rail staff before boarding the Queen's train to begin their 1,250-mile journey.

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.”

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William and Kate chatted to rail staff at Euston station 

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 Northpolehamton.

MORE: The Queen's unexpected set-up for meeting palace guests revealed

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Shakin' Stevens performed for the royal couple

Shakin' 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. 

“I’m loving it, it was lovely to be invited. And it was them who chose the song. Over the moon."

The Cardiff-born singer, real name Michael Barratt, 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 them, he added: "Absolutely hanging from the moon."

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William and Kate will visit stops in England, Scotland and Wales 

William and Kate are making the cross-country tour to thank those who have made sacrifices to support others and keep the country going this year.

Shaky, who was the UK's biggest selling singles artist of the 1980s, added: "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."

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William and Kate board the royal train 

Travelling on the royal train for the first time, the Duke and Duchess will visit England, Scotland and Wales, meeting frontline workers, volunteers, care home staff, teachers, schoolchildren and young people to hear about their experiences during 2020.

As well as celebrating community spirit and public generosity, the royals will highlight the UK’s arts, heritage and live performance sector, which has been bolstered by a £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund during the pandemic.

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