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Prince William plays basketball with injured military personnel


Prince Charles and Prince William bonded over wheelchair basketball as they joined Kate Middleton and the Duchess of Cornwall for their first joint appearance in nine years.

Playful Prince William, 37, tried his hand at the sport while meeting injured military personnel on a visit to the new Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC), Loughborough, this afternoon. 

Hoping to help his son score, Charles, 71, pushed William towards the basket and was on hand with a boosting shoulder rub when the first two shots were unsuccessful. Father and son were also joined in celebration when the Duke of Cambridge finally did score, with both princes throwing their hands up in delight.  

Charles, Camilla, William and Kate toured the facility, including the gym and the prosthetics workshop, on their first official outing since a charity concert in 2011.

Kate, 38, elegantly dressed in a military-style jacket by Alexander McQueen, spent time speaking to patients about the important role mental health care played in their rehabilitation. 

The visit comes as the Royal Family continues to adjust to the shift in responsibilities in the wake of Megxit, which saw the Duke and Duchess of Sussex step back from their roles as senior royals. 

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The fab four! Charles, Camilla, William and Kate came together to visit to the new Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC), Loughborough, in their first official outing as a foursome since 2011. Pictured, the royals at the centre today

A good sport! In the gym the royals met patients playing wheelchair basketball as part of their treatment – and Prince William, 37, gamely sat in a chair to try and score a basket. Despite his confidence, the ball went wide

His No.1 fan: Fortunately Charles, 71, was on hand to console his son and jokingly rubbed William’s shoulders as he commiserated in the chair, pictured. The father and son shared a laugh following the failed attempt

Perfectly polished: Meanwhile his wife Kate, 38, elegantly dressed in a military-style jacket by Alexander McQueen, spent time speaking to patients about the important role mental health care played in their rehabilitation

Cracking jokes! Prince Charles had his daughter-in-law laughing as they toured the facilities at DMRC this afternoon

Family affair: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared a light-hearted moment with Charles and Camilla at the centre

Radiant: The Duchess of Cambridge smiled as she spoke to staff and patients during a visit to the centre this afternoon

Former Major Peter Norton, a triple amputee, said of the Duchess: ‘She was asking me about the mental health and welfare aspect of the work here which is a huge part of the care you receive. It’s a very natural process here. They know the two go hand in glove.’

Charles stopped to chat with Emmanuel Bajowa, of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, who had suffered a fractured skull and is receiving treatment at the centre for around five months. He was doing a circuit including sit ups.

Emmanuel said afterwards: ‘The Prince told me my sit ups looked agony and asked about my injury. He told me to keep going – I’m not sure if he meant the sit ups or generally!’ 

Occupational therapist Verity Cannell and Sgt Angela Stevens also met the royal party.

Angela, who suffered injuries in an adventure training accident, said Charles was interested to hear that she was based at RAF Lossiemouth close to where he went to school at Gordonstoun. She said William also asked her about the mental health aspects of their care.

He’s ready! The Duke of Cambridge prepared to shoot the basket while meeting patients at the DMRC in Nottinghamshire

Disappointment! Prince William let out a grown after a failed attempt – but Prince Charles couldn’t help but chuckle

He shoots! The confident Duke of Cambridge flicked his wrist and sent the ball flying… but it went wide and missed the basket

Better luck this time! Fortunately for the prince he had better luck with another attempt and celebrated with Prince Charles

Royal outing: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in the gym today

Having a laugh! The Duchess of Cambridge chuckled as she spoke to people in the gym at the new DMRC this afternoon

Engaged: Kate looked interested as she spoke to staff and patients during the visit with Charles, Camilla and William today

Teamwork: The Duchess of Cornwalll, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Charles at the centre today 

Meet and greet: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke to people waiting outside during the visit this afternoon

‘We talked about how important it is and I told him about how it was very much a dual aspect, bespoke package of care we got here,’ she said.

‘He asked me how important it was to be ere with ‘my brothers’ and I told him how much it meant to me. It’s my goal to return back to service. ‘

Chatting to patients and their carers and therapists at a reception towards the end of the visit, Camilla asked one: ‘Have you seen progress? It just shows what can be done. It’s all about positive mental attitude. ‘

William also spent time talking to Emma Lumb, 25, from Barnsley, who served in the Royal Logistics Corps, and was paralysed from the neck downwards in a car accident last March. She was holding her son Lucus Murgatroyd, four, on her lap.

He asked her: ‘ Do you notice a difference [here]? Is it different being here as opposed to a civilian hospital? Do you stay here permanently? He also asked her: ‘Is it important to be able to speak about stuff?’

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out a rare joint engagement with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall

Kate Middleton, 38, turned to her go-to label Alexander McQueen for the occasion, plumping for a navy military-style jacket 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall all appeared in good spirits on their arrival

The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall looked relaxed as they chatted on their way into the centre 

The Duchess of Cambridge turned her head to speak to the Duchess of Cornwall as they arrived at DMRC in the rain today

Kate Middleton wore her hair swept back into a half-up hairdo for the outing with her husband, Charles and Camilla today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined Charles and Camilla today as they continue a busy start to the year

Smiling Kate and William shook hands with officers as they left the centre following the visit this afternoon, left and right 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (centre) leave after visiting the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall in Stanford on Soar, Loughborough

Speaking afterwards Emma said: ‘It makes a massive difference. You feel you are with your family, surrounded by the guys and the banter. Don’t get me wrong, the NHS was brilliant when I had my accident. I couldn’t have had better treatment. I can’t fault it. But when you are in the army you are part of a very special family and moving forwards it is a better place for me to be.

‘The staff here are so fantastic and they understand what it means to me.’

Emma said he would be at the centre for another 18 months but was visited twice a week by her family including her young son, dressed smartly in a camouflage tie for the occasion, and had regular weekends home.

‘I was worried about what it all meant for me as a mother but children just get on with it, don’t they. And i am very lucky to have what movement I do have from my shoulders upwards. I am lucky to be alive, to be honest. ‘

She added: ‘It’s everyone’s goal in the forces to meet a member of the Royal Family. I wish it hadn’t been here for me, but there you go. It’s wonderful that they have all come.’ 

Kate turned to her go-to designer, Alexander McQueen for the outing, and teamed the jacket with a long black skirt and matching bag, also by the British label, to create a classic polished look. The outfit choice is particularly poignant as today marks the tenth anniversary of McQueen’s death. 

The royal swept her hair back into an easy-to-manage half-up hairstyle – perfect for keeping flyaways under wraps on a cold and blustery day – and added a pair of simple silver drop earrings. She finished the look with a pair of long suede black heeled boots. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge looked animated as they chatted with staff following a tour of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall

Wearing royal blue, Kate looked engaged as she discussed the important work carried out by members of staff at the unit

The Duchess of Cornwall also looked glamorous in a teal coat with blue and green checked lapels, which matched her navy leather gloves

The Duchess of Cambridge was her usual smiley self as she met with patients and staff and had a tour of the gym and prosthetics workshop

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shook hands on their way out of the centre following the visit this afternoon

Meanwhile the Duchess of Cornwall brought a touch of colour to the occasion in a green wool three piece by Mr Roy. Camilla, 72, added a cosy hat with a faux fur trim to keep her hair warm in the chilly winter temperatures.

Their husbands looked equally smart, with Prince William, 37, donning a navy blue suit and military tie and Charles, 71, wearing a grey suit under a clay-coloured coat. 

Run by the Ministry of Defence the centre at the Stanford Hall estate, near Loughborough, began admitting patients in October 2018 and provides rehab treatment to serving military who have suffered battlefield, neurological or other injuries and illnesses.

DMRC Stanford Hall is part of the overall Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) programme which includes both a defence element and proposals for a National (NHS) facility on the same site.

William, who was patron of the DNRC appeal, attended the official handover of the newly built defence centre to the nation in June 2018.

Later during their away day in the Leicester area, Charles and Camilla will visit the city’s centre to meet stallholders and members of a local women’s charity, attend a performance by local schoolchildren to celebrate the diversity of the city and unveil a commemorative plaque in the new market square.

The prince will then attend a reception to launch the Midlands chapter of the British Asian Trust, in his role as the organisation’s founding patron.

While the duchess, who is president of Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), will visit Leicester General Hospital to take part in the RVS’ Big Trolley Push recruitment campaign, where she will be joined by West End musical star Elaine Paige.

Charles will celebrate craftsmanship when he visits a workshop, said to be the last in Britain producing rattan products, and then he will be joined by wife Camilla for a visit to the Cambridge Satchel Company.

Kate’s decision to wear McQueen today is particularly poignant as it is the tenth anniversary of the designer’s death

Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall followed Prince Charles into the centre this afternoon

Charles, Camilla, William and Kate will be given a tour of the facility. Pictured, the royals arriving at the centre today 

The Duke of Cambridge with the Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arriving at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall, Stanford on Soar, Loughborough

The Duchess of Cambridge looked chic in an Alexander McQueen military jacket, pictured, for the engagement today

The Duchess of Cambridge beamed as she arrived for the engagement alongside Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall followed Prince Charles into the DMRC today 

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