Prince William and wife Kate ignored pleas from the Scottish Government to cancel their Royal Train tour due to spiralling rates of coronavirus in the region, it has emerged.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled 1,250 miles across Britain in early December, to thank communities and key workers for their selfless roles throughout the pandemic.
But the jaunt has been condemned as “highly irresponsible” and lacking in “empathy about sacrifices made by the general public”, by fuming politicians.
William and Kate first travelled to Edinburgh as part of a three-day tour of England, Scotland and Wales, on the royals’ first tour since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
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Royal aides insisted the trip was “planned in consultation with the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments”, at a time when widespread local restrictions were being enforced across Scotland and Wales.
Now emails released under the Freedom of Information act have revealed deep concern over the trip from Scottish officials regarding the tour from December 6-8.
On November 20, it became an offence to travel over the border for non-essential purposes, and to travel between level three or level four local authorities in Scotland.
One exemption allowed “travel for work, or provide voluntary or charitable services”, but only “where that cannot be done from your home”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to add her support to the tour, instead making a barbed reference to the fact she made the Royal Household aware “of the restrictions in place in Scotland so that could inform both the decision and the planning of the visit.”
On November 12, John Somers, Nicola Sturgeon’s principal private secretary, told the Royals: “You’ll know that we are currently asking people living in Scotland to avoid unnecessary travel from local authority to local authority and to keep journeys within the area they live to an absolute minimum.
“I think my view is that at the moment the chances of the tour having to be postponed are potentially quite high.”
On November 19, James Hynd, the Scottish Government’s head of cabinet, parliament and governance, told the royals: “The Scottish Government is likely to bring forward statutory restrictions on non-essential travel both within Scotland and also into and out of Scotland.
“This is obviously likely to have a major impact on the plans you are working on I am afraid.”
Nevertheless, two weeks later, the future king and queen were in the capital.
Edinburgh North and Leith MP Deidre Brock said it was “irresponsible to travel to eight different locations over three days”.
“The Scottish Government pointed out the travel ban twice and the Welsh Government made clear it wasn’t happy.
“This ‘work trip’ wasn’t essential work, it wasn’t for any of the exemptions laid out in the rules and the guidance.
“There are plenty of exemptions from supporting vulnerable folk to animal welfare but none of them cover a 1250-mile trip round eight different sites making connections between people who would otherwise not be connected.”
Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard said: “It’s quite clear that the Scottish Government did everything it could to try and dissuade the palace from making this trip.
“On the face of it their decision to ignore this advice and to engage in the public event anyway seems highly irresponsible”.
Kensington Palace today insisted the tour was agreed by the UK and regional governments and all coronavirus regulations were followed at all times.