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UK: William and Kate Visit Coal Tip Disaster Site

May 1, 2023The Prince and Princess of Wales have visited Aberfan, the site of a disaster where 116 children and 28 adults were killed.

The village near Merthyr Tydfil was engulfed in ash slurry after a colliery spoil tip collapsed in 1966.

William and Catherine visited the Aberfan Memorial Garden to pay their respects to those who died.

The garden is on the site of the former Pantglas Primary School, which was hit by the landslide as lessons began.

Many people gathered on the street to greet the royal couple as they arrived, with one woman showing newspaper clippings of the Queen's visit to the village.

Among the members of the public the couple spoke to was one-year-old Daniel, who reached out for Catherine's black handbag as she stopped to talk to mother-of-two Lucy Williams, whose mother-in-law survived the disaster.


The moment was caught on camera as the princess left the child to play with the bag for several minutes.

Media caption,

Watch: Princess Catherine allows baby to hold her handbag

They were guided around the memorial garden by Aberfan survivor David Davies, a former pupil at the school, and Lord Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan Peter Vaughan.

William and Catherine met trustees from the Aberfan Memorial Trust who are involved in ensuring the maintenance of the garden, alongside some of the Aberfan Wives group who lost relatives in the disaster.

William and Kate AberfanIMAGE SOURCE,PA MEDIA
Image caption,
It is the first time the royal couple have visited Aberfan

Queen Elizabeth visited Aberfan eight days after the tragedy, shortly after a mass funeral took place, despite the Duke of Edinburgh and then-prime minister Harold Wilson visiting the scene the following day.

Her decision not to go sooner to the site attracted criticism and was said to have been one of the greatest regrets of her reign.

Kate at Aberfan 28/04/23IMAGE SOURCE,PA MEDIA

Despite this, mourners gathered to meet her and the bond she made with those she spoke to during that visit on 29 October 1966 endured throughout the rest of her life.


But members of the Aberfan Wives group - relatives of the children who lost their lives during the disaster - have since said they believe the Queen visited "at the right time".

In a letter sent to the King - then the Prince of Wales - in 2021, Gloria Davies said it "would have been unwise" for the Queen to have visited earlier as there was "so much removal working being done".

Media caption,

In 1966, 116 children and 28 adults were killed when a colliery spoil tip collapsed on to Aberfan

Fellow Aberfan Wives member Denise Morgan said: "Everyone who was saying 'she didn't come to Aberfan' - she came at the right time, she came at the right time.

"I really do believe she came as a mother that day, to sympathise and empathise with the terrible tragedy that happened in Aberfan."

In 1974, the Queen opened the garden to commemorate the victims and provide a place for bereaved families, survivors and the community to pay their respects.

She visited again in 1997, with her final trip to Aberfan in 2012 when she opened a new school called Ynysowen Community Primary.