Kate Middleton is back to work.
The new Princess of Wales, 40, hosted a solo audience at Windsor Castle on Thursday. The senior royal welcomed the Royal Navy Ship's Company of HMS Glasgow, a modern battleship that's currently being constructed in the Govan district of Glasgow, Scotland. At the Windsor audience, Princess Kate spoke to company members about how construction is going and their experiences serving in the Royal Navy.
Queen Elizabeth tapped Princess Kate as sponsor of the HMS Glasgow in June 2021, which Prince William announced in a speech at the shipyard last summer. The patronage promises that the Kate will have a longstanding "strong and enduring personal connection to the vessel and her crew, often supporting milestones, events and deployments," her office at Kensington Palace said at the time.
In his remarks at the naval yard, William, 40, said, "My family's affection for the Royal Navy is well known, and as I saw the work taking place here today, I was thinking of my grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh. He would have been fascinated and very excited to see such advances in skills and technology being put into practice."
"Today, I'm very pleased to announce that my family's connection with Type 26 will endure for many years to come," he continued. "Her Majesty the Queen has approved the appointment of my wife Catherine as Sponsor of the superb ship we see taking shape outside — HMS Glasgow. I know that Catherine will be delighted to join you here in Glasgow for the naming ceremony in due course."
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The Royal Navy said the inspiring vessel is a "a fast, adaptable, future-proofed ship" set to hit the seas in the "the mid-2020s."
"HMS Glasgow is the first in a new generation of cutting-edge frigates called the City-class, exceptional ships designed to adapt and to deliver manpower and capabilities to meet every challenge," the British military branch said in a statement.
The craft's flight deck will have ample room for the large Chinook helicopters of the Royal Air Force, and the loading bay is designed for quick deployments.
"The result? A frigate empowered to adapt to changing missions, from disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations to embarking military forces or supporting diving operations," the Royal Navy said.
The audience marks Kate's second engagement of the week, having visited Wales with her husband Prince William on Tuesday. The significant trip was the couple's first visit to the country since King Charles III officially named them the Prince and Princess of Wales the day after the Queen's death.
Locals told PEOPLE that William and Kate made a lasting impression on everyone they met. Rev. Steven Bunting, who hosted the couple at St. Thomas's Church in Swansea, opened up about the royals' "remarkable" way of making time for everyone.
"It was remarkable. The Prince and Princess of Wales spoke to everyone in the building — young and old," he says. "They are clearly committed to listening to the stories of the people in Wales. They were incredibly interested in everybody."
"You try to stick to a certain plan, but they were having none of it," he adds of guiding them around the bustling site. "They were having none of it and wanted to speak to everyone."