03/19/2012

Kate passes test with first public speech

 

There's a first time for everything, and usually a strong case of nerves to go along with it.

That goes for royalty, too.

Kate arriveShe may be called the Duchess of Cambridge, but it was Kate Middleton who had to make a speech in front of a large crowd on Monday, made even larger by the huge media interest in her first engagement that required public speaking.

The occasion was the opening of The Treehouse, a hospice built for $4.7 million and run by East Anglia's Children's Hospices in Ipswich, England.

Kate, who was greeted by about 600 fans waving British flags, spoke slowly, often glancing down at her notes, and kept to the two-and-a-half minute script. Aides stressed that she wrote it herself.

"You have all made me feel so welcome and I feel hugely honoured to be here to see this wonderful centre," she told the audience.

"I am only sorry that William can't be here today; he would love it here. A view of his -- that I share -- is that through teamwork, so much can be achieved. What you have all achieved here is extraordinary. You as a community have built the Treehouse; a group of people who have made every effort to support and help each other."

She recounted a visit she made to another of the charity's hospices in Milton. "I had a pre-conceived idea as to what to expect," she said. "Far from being a clinical, depressing place for sick children, it was a home. Most importantly, it was a family home, a happy place of stability, support and care. It was a place of fun."

Carole dressShe went on to praise the staff of The Treehouse, which she described as "a lifeline" for families. "The feelings you inspire -- feelings of love and of hope -- offer a chance to families to live a life they never thought could be possible."

Kate wore a blue Reiss 'Trina' dress ($215) for her appearance, the same as the one worn by her mother Carole to Ascot in 2010 (right). So, who is borrowing from whom? The general concensus is that Kate bought the dress in 2008 and lent it to her mother for her day at Ascot in 2010.

Six-year-old Tilly Jennings, who was born with a rare heart condition, presented flowers to the Duchess, along with Bethany Woods, who has muscular dystrophy.

The short speech was met with loud applause, followed by a tour of the facilities and meeting with children who have received care there. The visit to the EACH hospice completes the Duchess's swing through her four royal patronages. Previously, she had made visits with the National Portrait Gallery, The Art Room and Action on Addiction. She is also a volunteer for the Scouts.

For this stop, Kate has probably earned a merit badge for finally putting a public voice to the face. At a reception, she reportedly told one guest: "I find doing speeches nerve wracking."

Kate tilly
Tilly Jennings has a chat with Kate after presenting her with flowers at The Treehouse hospice on Monday. (Getty Images)

Kate tree
The Duchess of Cambridge manages to get around the handicap of high heels and a dress to plant a tree after opening a children's hospice  in Ipswich on Monday. (Reuters)

Kate woods
Kate meets Bethany Woods in a music class during a visit to The Treehouse. (AFP/Getty Images)

Kate art
The Duchess of Cambridge helps out Marnie Jennings during art class at The Treehouse. (Getty Images)

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Carol borrowed the fascinator from Catherine as well and I must say, neither flattered her. Mrs. Middleton should stick to her own wardrobe in the future.

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