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During the festive period there will be 11,000 sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines deployed on operations.Service personnel have been sent on 30 operations in 35 countries across the globe from Somalia and South Sudan to Kuwait and Ukraine.The Duke is Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire which is home to Typhoon squadrons which deploy to Cyprus and fly operations in support of Op Shader, the UK’s contribution to the ongoing campaign against Isis. He suggested making sweets was his forte at this time of year. “She does the cards and I do the chocolate,” he said, gesturing to Kate.Palace aides said the Duke and Duchess had particularly wished to deliver a message of support to deployed personnel and to acknowledge and honour the fact many are away from their families at this time of the year. In a speech to the children, parents and grandparents of those serving at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Marham in Norfolk, the Duchess said: “William and I just wanted to pass on our huge gratitude to all of you here today. “The absence of people you love must be especially hard at this time of year. William and I, however, hope that today shows, in some small way, how much you are all valued.” – The Duchess of Cambridge, at today’s Christmas Party for @RAFCGY @RAFMarhamMedia families. pic.twitter.com/vtnrMmecin— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 4, 2018 Prince William catches a fake snowball thrown by staffCredit:PA The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have taken up new positions as Santa’s little helpers today, as they prepare to hand deliver Christmas presents for the children of service men and women fighting ISIS overseas.The Duke and Duchess, who have three children of their own, hosted a Christmas party for RAF families at Kensington Palace, inviting their young visitors to join in activities from cracker making to snow globe decorating.Asking children to bring any presents or letters they would like to give their mothers and fathers serving overseas, the Duke and Duchess will gather them from a special post box to hand deliver tomorrow.On Wednesday morning, they will fly to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, where military personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham are deployed to support Op Shader, the UK’s contribution to the ongoing campaign against Isis.There, they will personally hand over letters and gifts from children to their parents, delivering a message of thanks for their service throughout the Christmas period. The royal couple spent an hour and a quarter chatting to the families at the party inside the pavilion next to the orangery at Kensington Palace, as musicians from the Honourable Artillery Company played Christmas carols and children made chocolate truffles, threw fake snowballs, and played party games. The Duchess of Cambridge takes part in a mock snow ball fight with childrenCredit:Richard Pohle Duke of Cambridge sits with Harry, fiveCredit:Richard Pohle The Duke and Duchess helped make the festive treats and cards and joined in one game, Santa’s Footsteps, in which they had to pretend to be reindeer seeking sweets. The Duchess also briefly joined in a snowball fight with the children before thinking better of it and handing her cotton wool snowballs over to the children. The Duchess of Cambridge meets children from RAF familiesCredit:Richard Pohle The Duchess of Cambridge meets Harry and his snowman lollypopCredit:Richard Pohle As the Duke made chocolate truffles with Harry, his wife spoke to other families, including nine-year-old twins Isabelle and Elizabeth and their mother Rebecca from Marham.The twins said that their father, Marc, a corporal in RAF Supplies and Logistics is currently posted in the Falklands, prompting the Duchess to discuss penguins. “I hear penguins are very smelly,” she told the girls. “We are really looking forward to flying to @RAFAkrotiri in Cyprus tomorrow and meeting some of the mums and dads of the little ones we have met today. I am sure they will be thrilled with all your cards and gifts, so thank you for posting them today.” – The Duchess of Cambridge pic.twitter.com/zuqksDngeb— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 4, 2018 One woman asked the Duke why he had not brought his own children to the party. As he crouched down making truffles with RAF children, he replied: “Because I can’t do this and look after the children.” “Not only are we grateful for you coming here to join our party, but also for the sacrifices you make on a daily basis on behalf of the nation.” Among the families there were Barrie and Ann Macdonald from Manchester who are looking after their grandson Harry, five, in Coningsby while his mother, Claire – their daughter – and father Paul, both wing commanders, are away in Afghanistan and Cyprus respectively.The Duchess paid tribute to the couple for moving in to look after Harry, whose father will not be home until January and mother until February. “So you are looking after Harry, are you? It’s amazing that families pull together like this,” she said. The Duke and Duchess hosted a party at Kensington PalaceCredit:PA She recalled being left at home when the Duke was serving as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot, not least when he spent six weeks in the Falklands in February and March 2012.“As someone whose husband has served, I know how hard it feels when a loved one leaves home to do the job they’ve trained for,” she said.“When William served in the Falklands or went search and rescue, I remember how it felt. But I can’t imagine how it feels when your loved ones are away on active service over Christmas or at those special family moments. “The absence of people you love must be especially hard at this time of year.“William and I, however, hope that today shows, in some small way, how much you are all valued.“ We should never forget our military families and all the service you do for us all.”The party was attended by around 200 guests, including one very special visitor: Father Christmas.Children, joined by the Duke and Duchess, were offered the chance to move around stalls for stocking decorating, cracker making, snow globe decorating and creating Christmas party kits. Father Christmas arrives at Kensington PalaceCredit:PA They work alongside 31 Squadron, a Tornado GR4 unit based at Raf Marham in Norfolk, which is also involved with the campaign.RAF Akrotiri is the home of the Cyprus Operations Support Unit which provides joint support to British Forces Cyprus and operations in the region to protect the UK’s strategic interests.
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