William and Kate take turns behind the wheel of hi-tech tractor during County Durham visit today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took turns behind the wheel of a tractor as they visited a family farm that aims to become carbon neutral.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 9:56 am

William and Kate had a tour of Manor Farm at Little Stainton, near Darlington, which has been run by the same family for 145 years, and which uses 21st-century technology to achieve sustainable farming.

William likened the GPS-controlled tractor to the helicopters he flew when he was an air ambulance and RAF search and rescue pilot.

Farmer Stewart Chapman, 51, who sat in the tractor on both journeys with the masked royals, said afterwards: “They both wanted a go and didn’t need any persuasion.

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William and Kate have visited the region today.

“Once they got used it, it was fine.”

The automated tractor had a route across the field pre-plotted using GPS and is designed to use less fuel by efficiently covering the ground, cutting emissions.

Two weeks of royal mourning for the Duke of Edinburgh ended on Friday for the Windsors, and William and Kate were out of their black mourning outfits and dressed casually for the countryside.

The Cambridges also joined the farmers’ daughters Clover, nine, Penelope, seven and Wren, four, and their lambs named Dumbledore and Heather.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (left) walk with farmers Stewart Chapman and his wife Clare Wise, during their visit to Manor Farm in Little Stainton, County Durham.

Clover said afterwards: “It was very exciting, but it was also quite nerve-wracking.

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“She (Kate) asked me about when my friends came over were they surprised at how well I train the lambs.”

Mr Chapman and his wife Clare Wise also showed off their calving cameras, which send them a text message when one of their cows is about to give birth.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk together during their visit to Manor Farm

The Duke and Duchess then headed to Belmont Community Centre and William spoke of his late grandfather when he met young people who have finished their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

While visiting the Cheesy Waffles Project – a group for young people with learning difficulties in Durham – William heard how Evan Jones, 18, and Lee Middleton, 23, had earned their gold awards.

The Duke asked: “Do you know he was my grandfather?

“Sadly he died a few weeks ago. He would have been so pleased that you got your awards.”

The Duchess of Cambridge steps from a tractor

The project has benefited from the couple’s Royal Wedding Charitable Gift fund, which totalled more than £1 million when they married almost exactly a decade ago.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet farming family, Clare Wise (left) her children Clover, 9, Penelope, 7, Wren, 4, her husband Stewart Chapman, and her parents.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the Cheesy Waffles Project at the Belmont Community Centre in Durham.
The Duchess of Cambridge swings a golf club during a visit to the Cheesy Waffles Project
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge strokes lambs with farmers daughters Clover 9, and Penelope Chapman, 7, during a visit to Manor Farm in Little Stainton, Durham.