New Zealand markets open in 3 hours 14 minutes
  • NZX 50

    11,631.60
    -46.15 (-0.40%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.6326
    +0.0003 (+0.04%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    7,487.70
    -40.10 (-0.53%)
     
  • OIL

    74.14
    -2.79 (-3.63%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,783.30
    +2.00 (+0.11%)
     

Prince William Reveals He's Learning Welsh as He Steps Into New Role as Prince of Wales

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales leave St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.
Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales leave St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.

Chris Jackson/Getty

Prince William and Kate Middleton wowed the crowds in Wales.

The royals, both 40, made a lasting impression on those who lined the streets to see them Tuesday during their first visit to the country since becoming the Prince and Princess of Wales, locals tell PEOPLE.

Rev. Steven Bunting, who hosted the couple at St. Thomas's Church in Swansea, home to a food bank and baby supply hub for families in need, tells PEOPLE that William is even learning the ancient national language.

"He talked about learning Welsh and shared some Welsh phrases he's trying to do," Bunting says, revealing that the prince was practicing the phrases "paned" (a cup, such as of tea) and "bara brith" (traditional Welsh tea bread).

More seriously, the reverend says it meant so much that Prince William and Princess Kate visited when they did. The couple traveled to Wales, where they lived as newlyweds, as soon as was practically possible following the death of Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 8.

The Prince And Princess Of Wales Visit Wales
The Prince And Princess Of Wales Visit Wales

GEOFF PUGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

RELATED: Kate Middleton and Prince William Visit Wales for First Time as Prince and Princess of Wales

"He is throwing himself into the new role," Bunting says of Prince William. "The fact that they've come straight here on day one says it all."

The day after the Queen died, William and Kate were made Prince and Princess of Wales by King Charles III. At the new sovereign's request, the royal family remained in mourning until one week after her funeral on Sept. 19.

On Tuesday, the vicar led William and Kate around the redeveloped church, whose food bank supports over 200 people per week and Swansea Baby Basics, which distributes essential items across the city.

While meeting with volunteers who run programming there, Bunting says the royal couple had a "remarkable" way of making time for everyone.

Catherine, Princess of Wales visits St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.
Catherine, Princess of Wales visits St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.

Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Kate Middleton and Charlotte

"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."

At St. Thomas' Church, William helped pack parcels for the food bank, and Kate did the same for a Baby Basics hamper — with a little help from Charlotte Bunting, age 2.

Prince William, Prince of Wales visits St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.
Prince William, Prince of Wales visits St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.

Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty

RELATED: Kate Middleton Accepts Flowers from an Enchanted 4-Year-Old in Wales — and Seems Just as Charmed!

"She was fabulous. The kids all loved her. She doesn't talk down to them and can have a conversation — and they appreciate that," says Rachel Bunting, the wife of the reverend and mother of Charlotte, who adorably wore traditional Welsh costume as she helped Princess Kate fill a care package.

According to Rachel, who runs Baby Basics at the church, the new Princess of Wales was on something of a fact-finding mission. "She was asking about what would be helpful and what resources would be useful," she says.

Kate has been involved with the baby bank network since the pandemic began, and brought a group of companies together in 2020 to donate over 10,000 new items to 40-plus baby banks in need.

RELATED: King Charles Makes Major Change to Royal Family's Social Media Profiles as Mourning Officially Ends

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales during their visit to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) Holyhead Lifeboat Station, during a visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Holyhead, Wales.
Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales during their visit to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) Holyhead Lifeboat Station, during a visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Holyhead, Wales.

Paul Ellis - WPA Pool/Getty

"There were a few weeks when we were starting to really struggle because we weren't getting the things we needed. But the toiletries that her initiative provided was a lifeline to those people," Rachel tells PEOPLE. "It made a huge difference."

In a larger sense, the local mom says William and Kate's Tuesday trip to Wales was incredibly positive for the community.

"We don't get royal visits here often and today made a massive difference. You can see kids everywhere and they're so excited," Rachel says. "For them, they're probably the most approachable royals. It's been a massive boost."

After leaving the church, the prince and princess greeted the crowds again and posed for selfies — something they don't usually do — spending about 25 minutes chatting with as many people as possible. At one point, Prince William had to double back to find his wife, who was so engrossed in a conversation that she fell behind.

The Prince and Princess of Wales smile to members of the public during a visit to Holyhead Marine Cafe and Bar in Holyhead, Wales, where they are meeting representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets
The Prince and Princess of Wales smile to members of the public during a visit to Holyhead Marine Cafe and Bar in Holyhead, Wales, where they are meeting representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets

Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images Kate Middleton and Prince William

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

Janet Hewitson, 67, from Barry, South Wales, and her partner, Nigel Ford, 68, were two well-wishers lucky enough to get a photo with the future King and Queen Consort.

"They are a lovely couple — the best couple for the job," Hewitson says. Of Kate, she added, "She was talking about how she loves coming to Wales and how lovely it is."

Pauline Bushrod, 80, tells PEOPLE that Prince William noticed her hands were cold from waiting to see them in the blustery conditions and that she charmed Kate by cracking a joke about the weather.

"I said to her 'I hope you've got your thermals on' and she laughed and said 'Yes. I've been to Wales before!' " Bushrod says. "They were acknowledging everybody along here."

William was also practicing his Welsh on the way out, initially saying, "Bore da" (Welsh for "Good morning"), though no one kindly minded that it was the afternoon.

Prince William, Prince of Wales leaves St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.
Prince William, Prince of Wales leaves St Thomas Church, which has been has been redeveloped to provide support to vulnerable people, during their visit to Wales on September 27, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.

Karwai Tang/WireImage

In one memorable connection, William chatted with Alan Cunningham, a former lance sergeant of the Welsh Guards, after noticing the regiment's badge on his sweatshirt.

"I might be coming back to see you more regularly," William told the 75-year-old. "There's lots to talk about."

Now, Cunningham tells PEOPLE he's looking forward to it.

"It's fantastic to see him here in Swansea as the new Prince of Wales. I'm very proud," he says.