Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Kate meets old friend on dock visit

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to Maizie Yeardley during a visit to BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
The Duke of Cambridge unveils a plaque to commemorate the opening of new offices at BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness
The Prince of Wales joins the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a visit to Dumfries House in Ayrshire

The Duchess of Cambridge bumped into an old childhood friend today - down by the docks.

Kate, accompanied by her husband, the Duke, met Matthew Lidiard, 27, a friend from their younger days growing up in Berkshire, when the future Queen was plain Miss Middleton.

Mr Lidiard now works as a quality inspector at the vast BAE Systems submarine building site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, where the royal couple paid a visit.

And the pair enjoyed a chat as William and Kate were given a tour of the cavernous Devonshire Dock Hall, where nuclear-powered submarines are built.

Kate, dressed in a red Armani coat, black tights and boots, had a brief catch-up with Mr Lidiard, now living in Windermere, who wore his blue overalls.

"My parents knew her parents when I lived down in Berkshire and were at the royal wedding with them," Mr Lidiard said. The Duchess asked how long he had worked for BAE and the two discussed "family stuff".

Earlier, hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets outside the site, waving flags and cheering as the royal visitors arrived.

They were given a guided tour of parts of the huge 170-acre site and the Duke pulled the cord to unveil a plaque as he opened a new suite of offices where the next generation of Britain's nuclear submarines will be designed.

John Hudson, managing director of BAE Systems Maritime Submarines, said: "We are delighted you have been able to join us here today in Barrow, the home of UK submarine building."

William received a round of applause after officially opening the offices - and left to gales of laughter as he joked to workers: "Everyone back to work now." He and Kate later toured the Dock Hall where HMS Artful and HMS Audacious are currently being built. Each of the vessels cost £1.2 billion and will join Astute and Ambush, armed with Tomahawk missiles, as part of the Royal Navy submarine fleet when completed.

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