Watch: Duchess of Cambridge helps Lisburn man solve crossword puzzle with royal inside knowledge

A Co Down statistics student who reckoned his chances of finishing a crossword were close to zero was offered some royal assistance when he bumped into the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Scotland.

ack Baird (21) was on his way back from the library where he was studying for his end of year exams at the University of Glasgow when he saw a crowd of students gather in front of the James McCune Smith learning hub, the main campus building for undergraduates.

“I had no idea they were in town because I have been studying so much and I just left the library to pick myself up some lunch,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.


Jack Baird (centre), 21, a statistics student, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland who tested the future Queen’s knowledge of royal finances when the Cambridges went on a walkabout outside the James McCune Smith learning hub, the main campus building for undergraduates. Photo: Tony Jones/PA Wire

“When I walked past the hub I noticed some of my friends gathering and then saw William and Kate so decided to stick about to see some royalty.”

The statistics student then took the opportunity to test the future Queen’s knowledge of royal finances on a crossword clue he was stuck on.

Jack – a self-confessed crossword fanatic – was left stumped on one particular clue from The Times puzzle from last week, which he has been religiously completing every week for the past two years.

“It was seven down and the clue was sovereign’s annual allowance,” said Jack.

“I knew it was civil ‘something’ and I asked Kate and she said ‘civil list’.

“She looked thrilled. I think she thought, ‘I wouldn’t live this down, if I get this wrong’.”

The student, who is originally from Lisburn, said that the clue was annoying him all week and that “seeing as the experts were in town, I may as well ask them”.

Jack said that the royal couple were “very down to earth” and “approachable” during the visit.

“Before I spoke to Kate, she spoke to a few of my friends standing in front of me and William also spoke to them,” he said.

“They were really lovely, and you could tell they were really listening to what we had to say, and this is a royal visit I will certainly remember.

“The first time I saw a member of the royal family it was from a distance, but this was really personal and the Duchess of Cambridge proved to be a good friend to me when I was in need!”

Jack said that he has a reputation for pulling out his crossword puzzles anywhere at anytime, even when out at a nightclub with his university pals!


The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the University of Glasgow in Glasgow, to talk with students about mental health and wellbeing – particularly relevant during what is exam season at the University. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

“If things get a bit boring, I just whip out the crossword and ask some of the people of Glasgow if they can help me,” he said.

Prince William had joined his wife during the walkabout in Glasgow, and earlier on Wednesday they had met students who described a project that provided the community with laptops, free internet and IT mentoring to get them online, when many activities moved onto the internet during the pandemic.

The Duke also joked about Kate becoming broody when they visited a school where she cuddled a baby, sang along with children and spoke to young pupils.

As the couple began their visit to the school, close to the banks of the River Clyde in Inverclyde, the William joked: “Can you get my wife out of here before she gets broody?”

The engagements in Scotland by the couple form part of a UK-wide tour to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year.

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