The two heirs to the British throne brought their future queens to visit the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.
Prince William gets by with a little help from his father Prince Charles.
On Tuesday, during their visit to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC), a new rehabilitation center for service personnel, in Leicestershire, William, 37, tested his skills at wheelchair basketball during part of a gym session.
But after several attempts, the royal struggled to score a basket. After missing his first shot, Prince Charles, 71, unexpectedly walked towards his son and pushed his wheelchair closer to the rim so he could score, causing onlookers to erupt into laughter.
But even with Charles’ help, William still struggled to score after two more attempted shots. After missing the third consecutive basket, the Prince of Wales gave him an encouraging rub of the shoulders and William exclaimed: “It’s not going to go in!”
Finally, on his sixth attempt he was successful. Spectators and staff on the side can be seen and heard clapping and cheering for the team effort as the prince raises his arms in the air to celebrate before getting up and shaking hands of the two employees who helped him.
Major Les Richardson, 49, of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, who broke his ankle in a climbing accident 11 years and has had several operations since then, had lent William his wheelchair.
He told reporters, “I don’t think he wanted to get in the wheelchair but I encouraged him to have a try, which he duly accepted. He is a good sport.
“He said he was going to try it, see what it was like, see how difficult it was. As you can see, he needed some help from his dad. He had several tries, got it in on the last one. Clearly wasn’t a basketball player at school. His dad gave him a little push closer, to see if he could help. They had a chuckle.”
The two heirs of the British throne teamed up with their future queens Kate Middleton and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, for a rare outing to tour the DMRC, where the couples viewed some of the therapy areas and meeting patients as they took part in gym sessions. They were also shown the prosthetics workshop and spoke to patients and staff about the clinical and therapy services on site.
The visit was more chaotic than some royal engagements. Outside of church services, concerts and occasions such as Remembrance Day, it is unusual to have the two couples together at the same engagement. At point William joked that it was bad enough when there were just two of them. “When there’s four of us it’s a nightmare.”
Charles said: “There’s too many of us!”
Charles also later remarked to reporters that he hoped their shorthand was up to scratch “with so many of us running around.”
The DMRC also provides valuable education, research and training in military rehabilitation, and provides services to a small group of veterans in the form of the Complex Prosthetic Assessment Clinic (CPAC), a joint Ministry of Defence and National Health Service England outpatient clinic.
William is patron of the appeal for the DMRC, which opened in October 2018. Based at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire, it treats members of the Armed Forces who are suffering from musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, complex trauma and those who need rehabilitation following neurological injury or illness.
For the two princes especially, the outing was a chance to publicly put the difficulties that have fallen on the royal family in the past month behind them. William’s brother Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle have exited royal life and are no longer senior working members of the royal family as they start a new life in North America with their 9-month-old son Archie.
After the visit, the two royal couples went their separate ways, with Charles and Camilla heading into nearby Leicester to visit a thriving market, meet members of a local women’s charity and watch a performance by local schoolchildren to celebrate the diversity of the city.