London: She is one of the world’s most famous women but, remarkably, the Duchess of Cambridge managed to go unrecognised when she visited a watersports store near her Welsh home.
The future Queen popped in to the beachside shop in the tiny Anglesey resort of Rhosneigr to buy a wetsuit — but the owner failed to identify her, and even had to ask her name.
Locals have described how the 30-year-old Duchess selected a suit at the beachside Funsport store, but then faced embarrassment as she realised she had forgotten her cash and credit card.
With Royal protection officers waiting in a car outside, she is said to have asked owner Dave Buckland — known locally as Bucky — if she could reserve the outfit and pop back later.
A source said: “He [Bucky] was happy with that, but then produced a pen and asked for her name. Perhaps she was trying to play down her destiny as future Queen, but she replied “Mrs Cambridge.”
“He was looking straight at her and actually commented that it was quite an unusual surname. He hadn’t a clue who she was. She just smiled and said she’d be back.
“He hasn’t lived it down since.”
Despite Buckland’s failure, other staff in the store at the time did recognise the Duchess and told him who he’d missed.
The Royal couple have been living in a rented farmhouse near Rhosneigr for the past two years. The hamlet, which has a population of 745, has a spectacular sandy beach with a cluster of cottages. It has become a magnet for tourists as it has a reputation as one of the best spots in the UK for both windsurfing and surfing. The Duchess is occasionally spotted browsing village shops or pushing a trolley at local supermarkets.
Glenn Seddon, who runs the Gecko clothes and accessories store in the hamlet, said she had bought cushions from him earlier in the summer.
“You don’t always recognise her at first,” he said. “I have heard the wetsuit story. I just find it hard to believe she arrived without any money.”
However, it is in keeping with certain Royal traditions, as the Queen famously never carries any cash.
The Duchess’s recreational life in North Wales has always been something of a mystery. She inevitably spends long hours away from Prince William while he is on call as a search-and-rescue Sea King helicopter pilot at nearby RAF Valley.
The 30-year-old Prince is a keen surfer, having first tried it in North Cornwall during family holidays with his mother, Princess Diana.
Locals believe it is unsurprising that the Duchess would want to share her husband’s interest. One bar owner said: “Frankly there’s not a lot else to do. It’s a beautiful area but you really do have to like walking or watersports.
“The coast is brilliant for windsurfing and Bucky’s is the obvious place to get kitted out. And I suspect the Duchess was rather pleased to stay anonymous.”
When The Mail on Sunday contacted Buckland, 40, he remained tight-lipped about his prestigious customer.
“Who told you that?” he asked. “I’m not saying anything. She’s entitled to some privacy.
“I’ll just say I’m happy with the rumour.”
His reticence means it is unclear whether the Duchess returned to complete her purchase. This is not the first time Buckland has failed to recognise famous faces in his shop. Six years ago, it was reported that actor Jude Law had hired a wetsuit and bodyboard there.
At the time Buckland said: “Jude came into the shop, apparently. I didn’t recognise him. I’m not familiar with celebrities.”