William and Kate go to East London visiting Beigel Bake Bakery and then the London Muslim Centre.
William and Kate visiting East London as the part of an afternoon of engagements to highlight how communities have been coping during the pandemic.
William and Kate in East London: Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery
The royal couple starts from the famous Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery. They help to make savoury treats from the scratch and handled dough with ease at the bakery, kneading it into balls big enough to make 30 4oz bagels. Complemented on her technique, Kate laughed: « Just wait until you see the aftermath. I had beginner’s luck, they are getting worse ».
Beigel Bake is churning out average 3,000 bagels a day. It opened for the first time in 1974 and has thrived as a family business. Uniquely, the bagel shop opens for 24 hours. However, the pandemic hit and make the store reduce their opening hours and most staff were placed on leave. The owners of the shop refused to let it dampen their spirits, however, helping to deliver food to vulnerable members of the local community and taking part in a food donation programme, Feast. He owner aware that today business is still tough, having lost the tourists that would come to Brick Lane to try its delicacies, but most of the staff have been brought back.
William told Amnon Cohen, one of the co-founders (who started the business with his late brother, Asher), that he is so excited to come to their famous shop. The couple were taken through by Amnon’s son, Elias Cohen, 27, to watch the bagels being made: they are boiled for around three minutes before being baked for 20 minutes at around 550F. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, after being handed aprons, hand sanitiser and gloves, tried their hand at kneeling the dough.
A tearful Amnon said the royal visit was the proudest moment of his life. Speaking later, Elias said it had been a tough time for the shop. He also added: « We have seen big changes, unfortunately. We had to reduce our hours. We initially remained open 24 hours but people weren’t coming to the shop. We had to furlough our staff. Fortunately, we were later able to slowly expand our hours again and are now open 24 hours again. It’s steady, we are serving. But it’s not like it was before. It’s definitely quieter ».
The Royal couple goes to the Mosque
The next visit, the Duke and Duchess went to the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre to meet staff, volunteers and local business leaders who helped provide food parcels during the pandemic. The mosque’s senior Imam, Mohamed Mahoud, spoke to the royals and brought up the issue of mental health.
The Imam said later: « I highlighted the issue of people increasingly needing support with their mental health – the Muslim community as well as the rest of the UK who have been horrifically affected by the pandemic in terms of losing jobs and livelihoods ». He added that the visit by the royal couple had real importance for East London’s Muslims and it was an incredibly significant visit: the Muslim community often feel they have to do more than what is required to be recognised as part of mainstream society and their visit to the East London Mosque and Tower Hamlets borough helps East London’s Muslims with that cause.
The Imam added: « It recognises our existence first of all and contributions we’ve made and the sacrifices and the pains and struggles of people, especially from the Bame (black, Asian and minority ethnic) community ».