- By Sean Coughlan
- royal correspondent
There’s nothing quite like a quiet pint if you’re the Prince and Princess of Wales.
Prince William and Catherine arrived at the Dog and Duck with crowds stuck in the narrow streets of Soho, in the bohemian heart of central London.
Trying his hand at being a bartender, Prince William pulled a pint of beer aptly called “Kingmaker”.
The royal couple had traveled to Soho on the Elizabeth Line, named after the prince’s grandmother, the late Queen.
The lunchtime pub crawl was meant to support the work of the hospitality industry in the run up to the coronation – an explanation few of us could ever use convincingly.
“You just get the best conversations in a pub…everyone is relaxed. You never know who you’re going to meet,” Prince William said inside the pub.
This may be a view shared by local drinkers who have heard plenty of stories, but who was going to believe them that they had seen Prince William and Kate enter the Dog and Duck?
As the coronation looms this weekend, Prince William said his son Prince George was excited about the big day.
Outside, Catherine shook hands with people in a growing crowd, although everyone was filming it on their phones, it was a big decision to shake hands or keep recording.
Prince William, in the spirit of modernization, pioneered the era of the tieless royal, and he arrived at the pub dressed in a jacket and open shirt. And so, taking his cue, his entire retinue also seemed to have ditched ties.
They must have scolded that the only people wearing ties in the post-Covid world are TV news readers, people at funerals and other people on royal visits.
Catherine kept to the side in a smart red outfit, which you will most likely see on the front pages of the newspapers, as she stood behind the bar in a way that would have made Peggy Mitchell proud.
These visits are an eerie version of real life. A helicopter hovered overhead, police had cordoned off and in the middle a man in a white coat was trying to deliver meat, bewildered by what was happening.
The dog and the duck have already had famous visitors. Madonna was spotted here and in the 1940s it was author George Orwell’s haunt – and even his worst nightmares about a surveillance society couldn’t have expected the sheer number of camera phones capturing every moment.
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It’s one of those London pubs full of old-fashioned mirrors and very modern prices, often frequented by the Soho media, meaning people have complained about their work here for generations.
It has long been part of the great pilgrimage of Soho pubs, such as the French House and the Coach and Horses.
But the serious part of the visit was to recognize the efforts of the people in the hospitality industry who will be working over the coronation weekend.
Pubs, restaurants and hotels are hoping for a coronation boom, with extended license hours.
This includes retail, recreation and transportation, and emergency services.
For some, a pub might be considered part of the emergency services – but for those who want to enjoy a pint at the weekend, someone else has to be in charge of the bar to serve it.
But on Saturday, Prince William and Catherine will be busy elsewhere in a different kind of service.
So they got into waiting cars outside Ronnie Scott’s jazz bar, with people hanging out of the windows filming as they disappeared down Frith Street.