Kate Middleton to meet people involved in Afghanistan airlifts

Kate Middleton will meet crews and civilians involved in Operation Pitting which airlifted 15,000 people out of Kabul as she resumes royal duties tomorrow after her summer break

  • The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, will visit RAF Brize Norton tomorrow
  • She will meet military personnel and civilians who helped evacuate Afghans  
  • They were all involved in Operation Pitting which also provided toys to kids 
  • Engagement comes amid news Harry may share new Afghanistan statement

The Duchess of Cambridge will meet military personnel and civilians who helped evacuate Afghans from their country, Kensington Palace has announced.

Kate, 39, will visit RAF Brize Norton on Wednesday to chat to those who took part in Operation Pitting, which saw more than 15,000 people airlifted out of Kabul during August, including thousands of Arap (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy) applicants and their dependents.

More than 850 people arrived at the RAF base in Oxfordshire and were provided practical support like food, clothing, children’s toys and medical help while their details were processed.

During her visit, the duchess – who attended her younger brother James’ wedding in France at the weekend – will meet RAF aircrews and medics who supported evacuees at Kabul airport.

She will also be introduced to and civilians and volunteers who established a repatriation centre at RAF Brize Norton.

The Duchess of Cambridge will visit RAF Brize Norton on Wednesday to chat to those who took part in Operation Pitting, which saw more than 15,000 people airlifted out of Kabul during August (pictured on a visit to RAF Arkotiri in Cyprus in December 2018)

Operation Pitting involved every unit at the military base, with personnel working alongside the Royal Navy, Army, local authorities and aid organisations in Afghanistan and the UK.

Brize Norton’s full fleet of RAF transport aircraft flew around the clock to support the evacuation, including a record flight for an RAF C17 Globemaster which carried 439 passengers out of Kabul.

Aircraft involved in the operation also carried supplies ranging from clothing and baby food for the evacuees.

It comes after a royal expert warned Prince Harry to be wary of wading into the Afghanistan crisis again if he uses his 37th birthday tomorrow to highlight a charitable initiative. 

Speaking to OK! Magazine, Richard Fitzwilliams predicted said that it’s reasonable to assume that he could choose to focus on the refugee crisis in Afghanistan, adding that he will have to ‘be careful not to say anything critical of President Biden’.

Meghan marked her recent 40th birthday with her own endeavour – the 40×40 project – in which she asked high profile people to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. 

And the couple also used the occasion of Archie’s second birthday to campaign for vaccine equity and urged fans to donate $5 to ensure access to the jab in low-income countries. 

Richard Fitzwilliams believes Harry could launch a charitable initiative on his upcoming 37th birthday – and has warned the royal to ‘watch what he says’

But Richard Fitzwilliams has advised Harry to be careful what he says, amid the growing political tensions following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

‘It’s a big crisis and it would be a reasonable assumption that any birthday initiative might be linked to Afghanistan and the refugee crisis,’ he said.

‘Harry and Meghan seem to see their future in the US and Harry will have to watch what he says about US domestic matters, especially as it’s been speculated that Meghan is eyeing up a future in politics.’

It comes after Harry and First Lady Jill Biden last night praised each other’s support for wounded veterans during a 30 minute virtual event to celebrate Warrior Games Warrior athletes, their families, and caregivers.

Prince Harry thanked the warriors for their service and said the Warrior Games inspired his Invictus Games

Jill Biden praised Prince Harry’s work with wounded warriors on Monday during their first even together since she became first lady

During their first event together since she became First Lady and he moved to the United States, Dr Biden praised Harry, saying: ‘You live by a simple principle – served together recovered together.’

And Prince Harry returned the praise, thanking the First Lady for her support of veterans and their families.

‘Thank you for your service and your continued support over all these years. It’s been fantastic to see you in action in various parts of the world giving everything that you’ve got to so many people to not just those who wear the uniform but to the families as well. A lot of them wouldn’t be here without you so, so thank you,’ he said.

Last month, the couple were criticised for wading into Afghanistan crisis with woke ‘word salad’ statement, in which they said they were ‘speechless’ and feeling ‘the many layers of pain’.

The warning Harry should be cautious follows a recent YouGov poll showing his popularity has fallen – in part due to poor public responses to statements like this one about Afghanistan

The lengthy statement, released via the couple’s slick Archewell Foundation website, called on followers to support organisations including the World Central Kitchen, but failed to say how much they would be personally donating or details of how they would help.

Prince Harry’s biographer Angela Levin told FEMAIL: ‘I think Harry and Meghan’s grandiose, comfy and caring comments about the situation in Afghanistan, the disaster in Haiti and new Covid variants is another example of them trying to set up some sort of alternate woke royal family.

‘Like most of their “compassionate” gestures there is no indication about what they themselves will do and whether any donations will be going through Archewell Foundation.

On top of their comments on Afghanistan, YouGov cited the the fallout from their interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, as well as the public responses to their statements surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, for the fall in the couple’s favourability ratings.

The couple’s highly-viewed interview with Oprah Winfrey has also been cited as a reason for the pair’s decline in popularity

The warning to be cautious about any comments around Afghanistan comes as a recent YouGov poll shows that Harry and Meghan’s popularity has gone down again, with YouGov citing ‘poor responses’ to the couple’s statements surrounding the withdrawal from Afghanistan as one of the reasons. 

Positive opinion of the Duke of Sussex has fallen by nine points, from 43 percent in April to 34 per cent now.

The Duchess of Sussex, 40, has seen a steady decline in her popularity this year, with positive opinion at 30 per cent in March, falling to 29 per cent in April, and dropping a further three points to 26 per cent now. 

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