June 19, 2020 / 10:15 AM / 21 days ago

UK's queen, Prince William and Kate back businesses after lockdown

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony to mark her official birthday at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, June 13, 2020. The Queen celebrates her 94th birthday this year. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, her grandson Prince William and his wife Kate have shown their support for businesses as they emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, with the monarch praising firms for their response “at a time of great difficulty”.

Britain’s economy has taken a pounding after the government imposed a lockdown in March which shuttered all non-essential retailers, with figures on Friday showing public borrowing had hit a record high and debt had passed 100% of economic output.

However, there was some brighter news for the retail sector with sales rebounding much more strongly last month than expected and on Monday there were long queues of shoppers when many stores in England reopened their doors.

“As many organisations around the country are reopening, I send my warmest best wishes and support to business communities throughout the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and across the world,” Queen Elizabeth said in a message to the British Chambers of Commerce of which she is patron.

“At a time of great difficulty for many, it is heart-warming to see the civic response and generosity of so many businesses, small and large, to the challenges posed, whether supporting the health sector or vulnerable communities.”

To show their support, William and Kate separately visited a bakers and a garden centre in Kings Lynn in eastern England to see how they had coped.

In her first face-to-face engagement since the lockdown, Kate chatted to customers and filled up a shopping cart with plants at the garden centre, revealing that her three children had been growing tomato plants at their nearby home.

“When we do our food shopping we notice that everyone keeps their head down and it’s hard for that social interaction,” she said.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Stephen Addison

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