The Aberfan disaster tragically claimed 144 lives in 1966

Prince William and Princess Kate pay their respects at Aberfan memorial – all the photos

The Prince and Princess of Wales paid their respects to those who tragically perished in the Aberfan disaster on Friday by visiting the Aberfan Memorial Garden.

144 people died as a result of the coal-tip landslide on October 21, 1966, including 116 children.


It marked the couple’s first visit to Aberfan
Photo: Getty Images

To pay their respects to those who lost their lives when a colliery spoil tip collapsed and sent tons of ash slurry onto the village below, William and Catherine were led through the Aberfan Memorial Garden.

The garden is located where the former Pantglas Primary School once stood. The school was destroyed by a landslide on October 21, 1966, at 9:13 am, right as classes were starting.

On October 29, 1966, the late Queen Elizabeth II and the late Duke of Edinburgh paid their respects in the village. Her Late Majesty also dedicated the Aberfan Memorial Garden in 1974.


The late Queen opened the garden in 1974
Photo: Getty Images


One of her biggest regrets during her reign was not traveling sooner, it was said. Despite this, people came to pay their respects, and the connections she made with the people she spoke to during that visit on October 29, 1966, lasted the rest of her life.

They were shown around the memorial garden by Professor Peter Vaughan, the Lord Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan, and Aberfan survivor David Davies, a former Pantglas Primary School student.

Along with some of the Aberfan Wives group who lost loved ones in the tragedy, they met trustees from the Aberfan Memorial Trust who are in charge of ensuring the garden’s upkeep.


Kate donned a black coat, a checked dress and a leek brooch for the poignant visit
Photo: Getty Images


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The royal couple is visiting the South Wales village close to Merthyr Tydfil for the first time.

Disaster survivor Gareth Jones, 63, was among the crowd. He had crawled out of the school’s window as his classmates were being buried alive by the black landslide.


The Prince and Princess greeted locals in the village
Photo: Getty Images


“I told her I was a survivor – I think she was quite surprised,” said Gareth, who was chatting with Catherine outside the memorial gardens.

She claimed that, with her own three young children, she is unable to comprehend what we went through. She expressed sympathy for all the grieving parents.


William and Kate with Aberfan survivor, David Davies
Photo: Getty Images


He continued, “I spoke to Prince William after; he wanted to know how what happened affected families. We just had to get started, I told him.

It was wonderful to see the new Prince and Princess of Wales here to pay their respects. The royal family has never forgotten us.

“People say that the disaster is old news, but it feels like it just happened yesterday to me. Since it’s ingrained in the royal family and there is a unique bond between us, I’m confident Prince William was told what happened here when he was a child.


William and Kate spoke with those affected by the 1966 disaster
Photo: Getty Images


An amusing incident occurred when a one-year-old boy grabbed the Princess’ handbag and made her giggle.

Catherine stopped to chat with mother-of-two Lucy Williams as little Daniel reached for her black handbag.

Before returning to get it, Catherine spoke to other guests while leaving Daniel to play with it for a while.


Kate laughs as baby Daniel grabs her handbag
Photo: Getty Images


The 30-year-old Mrs. Williams, whose mother-in-law survived the tragedy, spoke about the “memorable” encounter after the visit.

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He just took her handbag, she claimed. She let him play with it after he developed an interest in it.

The words “priceless – something to remember” were used by her mother-in-law, Carole Williams.

The Prince and Princess of Wales completed their second day of engagements on Friday in the South Wales Valleys and Mid Wales.


Lucy Williams, from Aberfan, holds her son Daniel Williams, one, as he plays with Kate’s bag
Photo: Getty Images


The couple joined the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team on Thursday and gave abseiling a try.

Later, the two met up with mountaineers at the close-by Dowlais Rugby Club, where they fed volunteers pizza from the Little Dragon Pizza Van.

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