Mathilde Giard - 2011-04-14
The young royals have been roosting on this island in north Wales. Their love nest is a cottage a few miles from RAF Valley on Anglesey, where William is stationed as a helicopter pilot.
The unspoken question floats in the pure Welsh air every time one observes the sheep-studded moors: won’t Kate be terribly bored on this little island buffeted by waves and winds? ‘We do have a gardening club and a bridge club,’ affirms Lady Rhonda Boston, an Anglesey resident who has fallen under Prince William’s charm ever since she bumped into him while he was out pheasant hunting. Katie Nicholl, royal correspondent and author of William in Love thinks that Kate will be just fine here, as she will appreciate the spectacular landscapes and be able to devote time to her passion for photography. Nicholl also says that Kate and William enjoy having friends over to wine and dine. It is the perfect place to nest; it seems that the newlyweds have made it clear that they wish to start having children.
Fond of long strolls in nature, the young royals will be able to enjoy the Coastal Path which traverses a variety of protected areas: over 200 kilometres (125 miles) of diverse landscapes, including sand dunes, salt marshes, inlets and cliffs. They may even spot a red squirrel or two; the island is one of the few places in the UK where they can still be seen.
Under the protection of Dwynwen, patron saint of lovers
The crown prince lives in a cottage well hidden behind trees, which facilitates his privacy and security. Neither palace nor servants. William and Kate have clearly expressed their desire to live simply and discreetly, the most recent trait of the British monarchy. They are said to be living close to one of the loveliest golden beaches of Anglesey, opposite Llanddwyn Island and its lighthouse, which can be reached on foot at low tide. A church there is dedicated to Saint Dwynwen - a good sign for the couple, since Dwynwen has been watching over and protecting Welsh lovers since the Middle Ages. She is honoured by the Welsh on 25 January every year, giving them the privilege of celebrating Valentine’s Day twice.
William need only travel a few miles from home to the RAF base in Valley, where he is a helicopter pilot in their search-and-rescue unit. Island dwellers might meet him doing some shopping at the Tesco in Holyhead, the nearby ferry port with service to Ireland. Or at the White Eagle Pub in Rhoscolyn, whose terrace gives onto a gently sloping view towards the sea. The first official event carried out by the couple after their wedding plans were announced took place on a nearby beach, at Trearddur Bay, where they named and christened the RNLI’s newest life boat: the Hereford Endeavour.
The station with the interminable Welsh name
Ynys Môn, Anglesey’s Welsh name, means ‘Mother of Wales’. Menhirs and funeral chambers bear witness to the island’s rich past. Anglesey was an important centre of Druid culture during the first century BC. Successively invaded by Romans, Vikings, Saxons and Normans, Anglesey finally fell under the sceptre of Edward I, King of England, in the 13C.
Edward began building Beaumaris Castle in 1295, but never finished it for want of funds. He left the area to conquer Scotland. Considered one of the most architecturally perfect castles anywhere, Beaumaris is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Beyond a strip of sea, the picturesque little port nearby gives onto a view of the snow-capped mountains of Snowdonia, the national park whose godfather is the Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins. ‘Beaumaris is said to be a “little corner of England in Wales” with 17C and 18C manors where “expatriates” would come to live,’ explains Christina, our guide.
Another popular tourist stop is the train station with the impossible-to-pronounce Welsh name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, that is, ‘St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St Tysilio's of the red cave’. Around 1860, the village counsel purportedly chose the moniker in order to encourage tourism via the longest station name in the UK (and Europe’s longest town name as well). Mission accomplished!
Two works of art link the island to the mainland. The earlier of the two bridges is the iconic Menai suspension bridge, inaugurated in 1826. On the other side of the strait, opposite Anglesey on terra firma, the spectacular medieval Caernarfon Castle was the idyllic site of the investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales. After Charles in 1969, William is next on the list!
Royal address book
The White Eagle, in Rhoscolyn, is one of Kate and William’s favourite pubs.
On the Isle of Anglesey, at Beaumaris, Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn is an enjoyable restaurant on Castle Street. The dining room behind the traditional pub has been stylishly renovated.
On the mainland, at Caernarfon in the hamlet of Bontnewydd, head for the Plas DinasCountry House (advance booking required for meals) where the prince enjoyed lunch with six of his friends in January of this year. The house once belonged to Lord Snowdon’s family; William’s great aunt Princess Margaret was a regular visitor. Rooms are available; doubles begin at € 107/£ 95.
Where to stay
This is an inviting B&B featuring a very cosy sitting room and bedrooms with a pleasantly refined decor. Double rooms from € 100/£ 88.
For more information: