Ahead of Queen Elizabeth II‘s funeral, Prince William and Princess Kate traveled to thank the defense staff and service people who have played a royal in honoring the late monarch.
The couple, both 40, paid a visit to the Army Training Center Pirbright to meet with Australian, Canadian and New Zealand troops. The soldiers have been deployed to the U.K. to assist with the upcoming state event and are rehearsing their roles in the ceremony ahead of time.
Following 70 years on the British throne, Elizabeth died on September 8 at her Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96. Her eldest son, King Charles III, ascended the throne shortly after his mother’s passing.
At the time, Charles, 73, also granted William his former title of Prince of Wales and bestowed Kate with the Princess of Wales moniker.
In the days following Elizabeth’s death, William reflected on the legacy that his grandmother left behind. “On Thursday, the world lost an extraordinary leader, whose commitment to the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth was absolute,” he wrote. “So much will be said in the days ahead about the meaning of her historic reign.”
The Duke of Cornwall praised the connection Elizabeth shared with his family. “My three children have got to spend holidays with her and create memories that will last their whole lives,” William, who shares Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4, with Kate added, noting that his wife had 20 years of the queen’s “guidance and support.”
He continued: “I, however, have lost a grandmother. And while I will grieve her loss, I also feel incredibly grateful. I have had the benefit of the queen’s wisdom and reassurance into my fifth decade. … She was by my side at my happiest moments and she was by my side during the saddest days of my life. I knew this day would come, but it will be some time before the reality of life without Grannie will truly feel real.”
During an outing to see flower tributes for the queen, William opened up about his expectations for the upcoming funeral service. “William said he thinks Monday [the queen’s funeral] will be hard,” a well-wisher shared on Thursday, September 16 after the pair’s visit to Sandringham, England. “[Kate] said it’s been overwhelming and she and William are very grateful for everyone being here. She was emotional. They seemed like they were here to soak up all the love.”
Scroll below to see more photos of William and Kate’s outing: