Edward holds the punchbag in sparring session with young boxer

The Duke of Edinburgh turned sparring partner as he steadied a punchbag for a young boxer in Stafford.

Edward used his weight to hold the red heavy-duty bag in place for 11-year-old Lacey Douglas as the youngster showed off her right hook at The Right Stuff Amateur Boxing Club.

The duke was joined by the Duchess of Edinburgh on the royal engagement on Tuesday as he helped with the partner drill in the gym.

Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh visit Stafford
The duke speaks to boxers during a visit to the Right Stuff Amateur Boxing Club in Stafford (Jacob King/PA)

The King’s brother is carrying out a host of engagements this week, ahead of celebrating his milestone 60th birthday on Sunday, including visiting Leeds to watch the Northern Ballet perform Rome And Juliet on Friday.

The slimmed-down working monarchy has been under increasing pressure, with the institution being branded “threadbare” and “depleted” of public-facing royals.

Charles, 75, is undergoing treatment for cancer and the Princess of Wales is recuperating from abdominal surgery.

Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh visit Stafford
Sophie watches as Edward holds the heavy bag for 11-year-old Lacey Douglas (Jacob King/PA)

William pulled out of a memorial service last week due to an undisclosed personal matter, although he has since returned to official engagements.

The Queen meanwhile is away on a week’s holiday.

Camilla has continued with her engagements following the King’s diagnosis, and represented her husband, leading the royal family at the service for King Constantine of Greece in Windsor last week.

Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh visit Stafford
Sophie jokes with Edward as he takes part in the sparring session (Jacob King/PA)

She has been dubbed the monarchy’s “saviour” in the press and praised for keeping “the show on the road” in the King’s absence.