William and Kate meet Prince Harry the springer spaniel
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have met a shaggy four-legged friend called Prince Harry on a visit to Cumbria.
William and Kate patted the energetic seven-month-old English springer spaniel with his owner, Kerry Irving, who uses his dogs to help others get outdoors to fight depression and poor mental health.
Mr Irving met the royal couple last month at a Buckingham Palace garden party with his therapy dog Max, and on Tuesday he welcomed the royal visitors to his home town of Keswick with Max, aged 11, and his other two springer spaniels, Paddy, aged two, and seven-month-old Prince Harry.
“I said, ‘This is Paddy, obviously that’s Max, and this one’s Prince Harry, and he (William) laughed, he said, ‘Oh yes, I remember you telling us about that’.
“The nicest thing was they actually remembered us from being in the Palace, they remembered Max.
“He said just flying over today, when they were coming in and they flew over the lakes, ‘To see everybody out on their boats, their dinghies, their kayaks and things, people outdoors, it’s great work you do, getting people outside’.”
The royal visitors are known to be dog lovers, owning an English cocker spaniel.
Mr Irving added: “Then Kate was talking about her dog and she said, ‘Your dogs are so calm. Maybe we should lend you Lupo’.
“And I said, ‘I’m quite happy to take Lupo for a walk’, and I said, ‘You are quite welcome to come with us and he (William) said, ‘I’d love to, I’d really love to’.
“I said, ‘Any time you need a break, just give me a call and we’ll go for a walk’.
“It’s great for Keswick – Keswick is one of the most dog-friendly towns in the UK and I think it is just fantastic.”
Mr Irving, 54, suffered a devastating car crash in 2006, but overcame severe depression by walking his neighbour’s dog Max before he adopted him.
He and his wife Angela have gone on to use the dogs for therapy to help others and raise funds for charities supporting mental health – an issue close to Kate and William’s hearts.
A Facebook page called “Max out in the Lake District” has more than 80,000 followers and the dog also visits terminal cancer patients as well as taking part in organised walks to get people suffering low moods to leave their homes and go outside.
Mr Irving added: “Without Max I would not be here. He saved my life because I was suicidal.”
In Keswick the royal visitors were greeted by hundreds of well-wishers at the start of their visit to Cumbria.
After sampling local cheese from market stall holders, they spent an hour talking to residents involved with organisations supporting communities and families across Cumbria.
The royal visitors then left Keswick to drop in on a traditional fell sheep farm to meet members of the farming community and learn about some of the challenges it faces.