The Duke of Cambridge visited the McLaren production facility in Woking today where he saw many of the super car manufacturers top models, and also met with Sporting Chance charity, which is helping victims of the sexual abuse in football.
William remarked upon seeing a Lego model of one super car: “Wow! My son would love this”, adding, “My son is very much into Lego and he’d love this: it’s incredible!”
Taken on a tour of the facility by chief executive Mike Flewitt, the Duke got a chance to sit behind the controls of the real thing as well.”I am a car enthusiast,” William said. “I don’t know very much about cars, but I like speed.”
It is widely known that The Duke of Cambridge is a motorbike enthusiast, with his wife, Catherine, previously admitting she hoped Prince George wouldn’t share the interest.
But William was keen to find out if the gadget-filled dashboard had a place for the royal cup of coffee. “The key question is: does it have a coffee cup holder? It’s a fast car, but does it have a coffee cup holder?”
The Duke also put the finishing touches on another model of the £210,000 720s, by fitting its iconic badge to the front bonnet.
William has recently left his job as an air ambulance pilot to concentrate full time on royal duties, and the royal diary shows he is upping his engagement count.
Mr Flewitt said: “A lot of his knowledge is actually from aircraft and he was drawing parallels with what he knows from helicopters, aeroplanes and that side of the world.”
When he was shown McLaren’s brand new 570s Spider supercar, Prince William joked that its ability to reach top speeds of 200mph might just be hampered by the law. “Of course, there’s a 70mph speed limit with that,” he said.
The future King also saw famous models of McLaren’s racing cars, including Lewis Hamilton’s world-championship winning MP423.
He met apprentice Alex Machin and other assembly staff, who fit each component by hand. Machin, 17, is the Manufacturing Magazine Awards apprentice of the year, and told William about his training on the production line.
Earlier in the day, the Duke spoke out on how the football community needs to do more to support players with their mental wellbeing, as he visited charity Sporting Chance, which is helping victims of historic sex abuse within the football industry.
The FA – of which William is president – called on the group in light of the scandal.
Prince William shared his views on the challenges football must face, saying it was “damning on all of us” that young men struggled for so long to to talk about their problems and feelings, it was “fantastic” that more was now being done for players’ mental health.
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The Prince, who regularly campaigns and speaks out on mental health issues, added: “We need to normalise this a lot more in stadiums around the country whenever we can and people, fans, players, need to see that, the clubs in particular have a huge role in promoting that message.”
The second in line to the throne, who is President of the Football Association, listened to staff from the FA and Sporting Chance state that many young men and boys perceive talking about their feeling as a weakness. The Duke asked what could be done to tackle that.
Referring to the death of former Welsh international Gary Speed, who was found hanged in 2011, the Royal said: “My understanding is following the tragic circumstances of Gary Speed, that started the ball rolling about people talking about their struggles and their problems, going ‘wow, if Gary Speed has these problems then I need to go see someone’, and it’s great news in that sense if from something so horrendous something so positive has come from that.
“But equally it’s very damning on all of us that this has been brewing under there for a long time, these young men do not feel comfortable about some of this stuff.
The charity was founded by former England and Arsenal player Tony Adams, who said: “If you’ve got a bad knee I think, the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) would pay for that player to have his knee done then it should get him help for mental health. It’s exactly the same.”
He added about William: “I think he gets it, I think he understands.
“Just because you’re royalty, you’re a human being at the end of the day with the same thoughts and feelings. I’m very proud that he’s taken an interest.”
During his visit to Sporting Chance, whose headquarters are on the site of the Champney’s Spa in Liphook, Hampshire, William spoke to three historic sex abuse survivors including Ian Ackley, who said: “It was heartwarming to see how genuinely concerned and compassionate he was about the service here at Sporting Chance.
“It has made a huge difference to myself and the other guys to have it acknowledged in such a way, it’s fantastic. Without the service I wouldn’t be the functioning human being I am today, it’s been essential to my recovery.”
Sporting Chance was set up in 2000 to support professional and former professional sportspeople with a range of issues from addiction to bereavement, depression and anxiety.