Royal Roundup: Will, Kate and Harry Visit Cities Hit by Riots

William and Kate talk to Ajay Bhatia at a coffee shop that had been looted last week in Birmingham.

There have been more royal visits for England’s troubled urban areas.

In a surprise trip, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went to Birmingham today, a day after Prince Harry toured Manchester.

Their visits followed Wednesday’s by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to riot-ravaged areas of London.

In Birmingham, Prince William and Kate Middleton met with the families of three men who were killed last week as they tried to protect their stores and homes from looters.

The royal couple also went to the nearby Summerfield Community Center, where they met with Birmingham’s mayor and local law enforcement officials.

“The arrival of the Duke and Duchess in bright sunshine has really helped lift the mood here,” Chris Sims, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police told Hello! magazine.

On Thursday, Prince Harry took a day off from helicopter training to tour the borough of Salford, which was hit by the worst rioting in Manchester.  He talked with police and other emergency workers and said they were doing a “fantastic job.”

At one police station, he met with 39 injured officers.

Police Constable Andy Sheridan said, “Harry was very shocked. He said he had seen pictures and footage and was shocked and outraged by what he had seen.”

Sheridan told Harry: “In 20 years of policing, last Tuesday was the most frightening thing I have ever encountered.”

Harry replied, “As an army officer I really respect the work you guys do, and I can’t praise your bravery highly enough.”

As with other royal visits, some locals were absolutely thrilled, others not so much. One woman on the street told the BBC that Harry had shown he had “definitely got guts” in coming to the area, while another said his presence was not “going to change anything.”

Prince Harry’s visit, however, definitely made one rescue worker’s day. Salford paramedic Neil Bruckshaw was ecstatic when he was able to introduce his two-year-old son Harry to the Prince. Bruckshaw told the Mirror: “It was like when Harry met Harry.”

In other royal-related news:

• Prince Harry will be traveling a bit further than Manchester this year. His official spokesman Nick Loughran has confirmed that the Prince will be heading to the U.S. later this year to complete his helicopter training in California and Arizona. Loughran told The Daily that Harry will be going “at some point in the next couple of months for a handful of courses” and that he’s likely to be stateside for “about two-and-a-half to three months.”

• The former News of the World reporter who was arrested yesterday for phone hacking has covered the royal family. James Desborough, the thirteenth person to be arrested by Scotland Yard in the still widening scandal, was in the press entourage that covered Kate and William during their recent North American trip. But there’s no evidence that anyone wants to talk to him about hacking royals. “Even alleged hackers (or at least, this one) aren’t dumb enough to mess with the crown,” writes E! Online, which noted that Desborough had served as a guest royals correspondent for E! this summer. The website speculates that Scotland Yard was interested talking to the winner of the British Press Showbiz Writer of the Year award for his reporting about Heather Mills.

• A London toy emporium is selling new Kate and William dolls, as they appeared at their April wedding. They’re selling for £100 ($160), though you can buy Kate alone for £50 ($80). For every doll sold, one pound will be donated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The firm that makes the dolls, Arkus, says some may see them as “delightfully kitsch” or “a touch eccentric.” The editor of Majesty magazine called them “harmless enough” and suggested, condescendingly, it seems to us, that “they will appeal to the North American market in particular.”

He may be wrong about that. They certainly didn’t appeal to the NPR blog Monkeysee, which declared in its headline: “Don’t Judge Royal Attractiveness Based On These (Creepy) Will And Kate Dolls.” Catherine looks “panicked,” writes NPR royal-watcher Linda Holmes, “like she’s saying, ‘TAKE THE PHOTO! TAKE IT! A BEAR TRAP IS CLAMPED AROUND MY ANKLE!’”

Meanwhile, BBC News said that it “could not get to the bottom of rumours of a planned Pippa Middleton doll.”