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William and Kate go maskless as they carry out a royal engagement in Buckingham Palace

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hosted an audience at Buckingham Palace. (Kensington Palace)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hosted an audience at Buckingham Palace. (Kensington Palace)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have become the first royal couple to carry out an engagement at Buckingham Palace since the Queen left for Windsor in March.

The couple were pictured without masks, but were socially distanced, as they met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine and First Lady Olena Zelenska at the London palace.

The meeting took place as the Queen returned to Windsor Castle following her shorter summer break in Balmoral.

She and Prince Philip also had a short break in Sandringham together, where he has remained.

The Queen, 94, will travel to Buckingham Palace for engagements when she needs to, but will otherwise stay in Windsor Castle.

The Berkshire residence is where Her Majesty considers home, because she grew up there with her sister during the war, and is where she usually spends weekends.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his wife, Olena, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his wife, Olena, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London. (PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his wife, Olena, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London.
The couples did not wear masks but did maintain a social distance. (PA)

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A palace spokeswoman said: “The duke and duchess received the president and first lady of Ukraine during their visit to the UK on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.”

The president and his wife are on a two day working visit, and will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The UK is giving Ukraine £5m in humanitarian aid.

Neither of the couples wore masks during the visit, but they also avoided shaking hands, and stood at a suitable social distance.

William and Kate greeted the couple, and sat on opposite sofas in the palace’s Throne Room.

Kate wore a cornflower blue belted dress and Prince William donned a suit and tie.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during an audience with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his wife, Olena at Buckingham Palace, London.
Kate wore a blue dress with nude heels for the brief meeting. (PA)

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It’s the first time Buckingham Palace has been used for a visit since the lockdown began in March, but William and Kate, as well as Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have carried out in-person engagements for several weeks.

Charles used his London home of Clarence House when he met French President Emmanuel Macron.

However he and Camilla are living in Highgrove House. William and Kate are now back in Kensington Palace, as their two oldest children are back in school in London.

All large scale events have been postponed at Buckingham Palace, meaning there will not be any investitures until at least next year.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his wife, Olena, during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London.
It's the first time Buckingham Palace has been used in seven months. (PA)

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Current UK government guidelines are for masks or coverings to be worn in public enclosed spaces like pubs, restaurants, supermarkets and on public transport.

If the palace is considered an office, as it’s a place of work for the Royal Family, government guidelines suggest the royals should wear coverings.

Government advice is also to reduce face-to-face meetings “wherever possible”.

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