Taxi driver’s delight at driving Middletons home
An incredible experience, but ‘they didn’t leave a tip’
LONDON: The taxi driver who picked up Carole and Michael Middleton after they met their grandson for the first time has revealed they didn’t leave a tip.
But Tracy Mitchell still insists that escorting them from St Mary’s Hospital was an “incredible” experience.
She was called to the hospital’s private maternity ward by a third party, and realised the identity of her passengers only when she arrived. Upon being briefed by a press officer, she said: “I wish I’d known – I’d have done my hair”.
The 49-year-old said Mr Middleton tried to pay the £15 (R225) fare when they arrived back at Kensington Palace – but was told it had been paid in advance. He did not, however, offer a tip.
“They chatted amongst themselves, and she spent much of the journey on the phone,” Mitchell said. “When we got to the other end I congratulated them on the arrival. They said ‘ thank you very much’. Very down-to-earth people, they seemed. She was kind of bewildered by it all.”
The taxi driver said Mrs Middleton spoke during the 15-minute journey of being “overwhelmed” by the experience. Mitchell responded jokily: “Imagine what it was like for me as the taxi driver!”
Mrs Middleton replied that she was “really sorry”, but Mitchell laughed off the apology, adding: “No, no, it was very exciting for me”.
The driver – and her distinctive bright blue cab – could be seen in news footage of the Middletons emerging from the hospital that was broadcast around the world.
She has driven Lily Allen, Julian Clary and Russell Grant since taking the wheel last year – but described the Middletons as “the best”.
“It was incredible,” Mitchell said. “I mean, picking up the future king’s grandparents… it doesn’t get much better than that. It wasn’t until I got there that I was told it was Kate’s mum and dad I was picking up. You really could have knocked me down with a feather, to be honest with you. I was really quite taken aback.”
She had answered a call at about 4pm on Tuesday, and was told to report to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s in Paddington, West London, where the duchess had given birth the previous day.
Mitchell, who had initially been told she would be picking up someone called Danielle, was then called by a press officer, asking what car she was driving and what colour it was.
“It didn’t dawn on me that it could be anyone to do with (the birth) or Kate’s mum and dad,’ Mitchell said. She took one more fare after dropping off the Middletons – and then enjoyed a celebratory bottle of beer at home.
The Middletons themselves were soon entertaining the new prince. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their new arrival, are now staying at the family’s home in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
Meanwhile, the new grandparents’ company, Party Pieces, is already advertising its baby-themed wares on Facebook with a picture proclaiming: “It’s a boy”.
The photo shows off several products from the couple’s “christening” and “new baby” ranges, including a rocking-horse cake stand for £11.99 (R180).
The Middletons have been accused of cashing in on their daughter’s royal status several times before; their firm launched royal- themed products ahead of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011, and the diamond jubilee a year later.
A company spokesman said: “Party Pieces has specialised in parties to mark children’s births for over 26 years… Our acknowledgment of the birth is entirely appropriate and entirely in fitting with our customers’ joyfully received messages of congratulations.” – Daily Mail
PROUD GRANDPARENTS: Michael and Carole Middleton leave St Mary’s Hospital the day after their daughter, Catherine, gave birth to a baby boy.