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.
She 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.
"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."
She 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."