Their visit to Liverpool and the surrounding area came two days after the publication of the book, which was also accompanied by a massive publicity push, including in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE in this week's issue.
The theme of the day for the Prince and Princess of Wales was to highlight the work being done by those working in healthcare and mental health support services. The couple wanted to thank healthcare staff for their ongoing contribution through the harsh winter months.
They began the day at the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital, coordinating in navy and green ensembles. As Prince William and Princess Kate arrived, they waved to onlookers and didn't answer reporters' shouted questions about their reaction to Prince Harry's memoir — although it's hard to tell if they could even hear the asks over the blustering wind.
— Simon Perry (@SPerryPeoplemag) January 12, 2023
The medical facility, which opened in October 2022, is a state-of-the-art hospital that replaced another that had served the community for about 40 years. It is the biggest in the U.K. to provide all patients with single en-suite bedrooms.
With 640 beds, including 40 critical care beds for patients in the intensive care unit and high-dependency unit, the Royal Liverpool Hospital hosts many specialist services and focuses on complex planned care.
William and Kate are out at an official engagement today for the first time since the publication of Prince Harry’s book. They’ve arrived at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital pic.twitter.com/yxRkYhbI3i
— Simon Perry (@SPerryPeoplemag) January 12, 2023
Prince William, 40, and Princess Kate, who celebrated her 41st birthday on Monday, visited a ward to see firsthand the gleaming new facilities, and they met staff who have been working at the hospital during the busy winter. Some of them may have been familiar faces, as William had talked to some of the critical care team over a video call three years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also among those meeting William and Kate were support staff and mental health first aiders who are based at the hospital.
As they prepared to leave the hospital, they posed for selfies with around 20 hospital staff, volunteers and visitors.
"They were so welcoming. They were so warm and friendly," ophthalmic imaging technician Amber Otto, 27, who caught up with the couple and snapped photos with both Kate and William, tells PEOPLE. "Even when they were being rushed out, they made sure they made time for everybody."
She added that it was great to have the couple visit the hospital during their day visiting the area. "The Princess asked me what I did," Otto says. "They were talking to as many people as possible."
Amber Otto Amber Otto and Prince William
Frieda Sebastian, a deputy ward manager at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, was part of a special delegation of staffers and volunteers at the new hospital who were chosen to talk to Prince William and Kate.
She told them she'd been in the U.K. for three years, arriving from India at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I feel very honored to have this opportunity. They asked me where I was trained — I was trained in India — and about the working pressures which we have," Sebastian tells PEOPLE. "They're very aware of the pressures. And they inquired about my family and whether they joined me here. They did a year ago."
She adds, "It is like a dream because it was something we never expect. In praising all the staff. They understand what we as nurses do for the NHS. It's really encouraging and motivating for everyone that they know what the nurses are doing."
"We were under the impression that they'd be meeting people and leaving but the way they communicated with everyone was really unexpected," Sebastian shares. "They were communicating with each and every one in the room. They were thankful for what we are all doing."
Following the hospital visit, Kate and Prince William made a second stop at the Open Door Charity in Birkenhead, which uses culture and creativity to inspire and engage people. The pair immersed themselves in the charity's exciting and colorful Bloom Building, hearing about how the organization helps young adults face various challenges.
The Bazaar program blends elements of cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness to help young people and young adults aged 17 to 35 understand their mind and give them the training, skills, tools and techniques to support themselves. Meanwhile, the Oomoo program was developed for care experienced young people aged 11 to 18 living on the Wirral to help them navigate life's ups and downs and offers activities such as dance classes, film nights and well-being activities.
Jon Super-WPA Pool/Getty Images
On Wednesday, Kate was seen for the first time since the book release, driving a car near Windsor Castle.
King Charles also undertook a royal outing on Thursday, visiting Aboyne and Mid Deeside Community Shed in Aberdeen, Scotland. The organization works to improve the health and well-being of local residents by reducing rural social isolation.
Sporting a kilt, the 74-year-old monarch smiled as he chatted with well-wishers gathered outside.
Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images King Charles
In his interview with PEOPLE surrounding his book release, Prince Harry said writing the memoir was part of his "mental health journey."
"I don't want to tell anyone what to think of it and that includes my family," he tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "This book and its truths are in many ways a continuation of my own mental health journey. It's a raw account of my life — the good, the bad and everything in between."
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Prince William and Kate Middleton
"My hope has been to turn my pain into purpose, so if sharing my experience makes a positive difference in someone's life, well, I can't think of anything more rewarding than that!" he said.