Kate brings a smile back to terminally-ill boy
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge speaks to leukemia sufferer Zakwan Anuar, 15, at Hospis Malaysia. (Getty Image)
Zakwan Anuar smiled.
For his mother, for the staff at Hospis Malaysia, it was a gift rarely seen on the face of the 15-year-old boy with acute leukemia. But when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge walked sat down next to him on Thursday, there it was, as big and as bright as ever.
Zakwan was so looking forward to Kate's visit to the hospice, he postponed his scheduled blood transfusion treatment so there was no chance he would miss her.
Kate and Prince William visited Malaysia's largest centre for the terminally ill as their first stop in Kuala Lumpur, part of their nine-day tour of Asia and the South Pacific. The day began with a visit to the war cemetery in Singapore and ended with a lavish dinner hosted by Malaysia's King the Agong, at which Kate wore a stunning full-length Alexander McQueen gown (right).
Kate is patron of a children's hospice in Britain and made sure to include Hospis Malaysia on the schedule so she could spread the word about the importance of such centres in only her second public speech.
The hospice brought four patients, including Zakwan, to a room where they could visit with Prince William and Kate.
The duchess chatted with Zakwan, who had his birthday two days ago, for about 15 minutes as his mother sat beside them.“Zakwan is normally very sleepy and in pain, crying, almost giving up hope, but today, my God, it was as if the leukaemia had gone," said his mom Norizan.
“He is in more pain because he put off his blood transfusion and he needed a lot of painkillers, but I don’t see the need for that now. God bless her. I cannot repay that kindness.”
Kate signed Zakwan's birthday card (right) as she talked to him about life in the hospice. “You must be very, very brave," Kate told him. "Are you in pain? You’re a brave boy. Thank you so much for coming to see me.”
Before she left him, he told her she was "very pretty," prompting to reply: "Thank you. You're very handsome."
Prince William, meanwhile, talked with Linges Warry Apparao, 14, who has nemaline rod myopathy, a genetic muscle disease.
In Kate's speech at the hospice, she spoke of the need for "life-changing" care of dying patients.
"With effective palliative care lives can be transformed," she told her audience, which included Prince William for the first time. "Treatment, support, care and advice can provide a lifeline to families at a time of great need."
The duchess, wearing a duck-egg blue pleated shirt dress by Jenny Packham, wasn't showing any nerves as she made her speech just hours after landing in Kuala Lumpur.
Prince William and hospice workers, based in Kuala Lumpur, listened as the Duchess talked of her education about palliative care through her role as patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices.
“Through this patronage, I have learnt that delivering the best possible palliative care to children is vital," she said.
“It has been wonderful meeting the patients, families and all the staff here -- you have given us the most wonderful welcome."
Dr. Ednin Hamzah, founder of Hospis Malaysia, praised Kate for her work with hospices.
"I think the duchess could become the champion for the hospice movement worldwide if she wants to take on that mantle," he told the assembled media. "It's not by chance that we were picked for her first speech abroad. It wasn't a random thing.
Kate and William's evening was a formal affair at the Istana Negara palace of Malaysia's king and queen (right). In keeping with religious traditions, Kate kept the top of her arms and legs covered. According to the Daily Express, reporters covering the event were told not to wear high heels -- for fear they make too much noise on the marble floors -- or the colour yellow. Kate, however, did have wear four-inch heels, which increased her stature well beyond most of the 400 guests at the banquet.
The royals were also given gifts by their hosts -- a Malay warrior's sword for William and a pair of black lace peep shoes for Kate.
Will and Kate's day began on a sombre note, as they laid a wreath at the War Memorial in the Kranji Commonwealth War Cemetery in Singapore.
There are 4,461 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated at the cemetary, more than 850 of them unidentified. The Singapore Memorial has the names of more than 24,000 Commonwealth soldiers who have no grave.
The couple paid a special visit to the graves of 10 men of Z Special Unit, an Allied unit of Australian and British special forces were executed just before the end of the Second World War. They had been captured during a secret raid on the Japanese fleet, using canoes to paddle out in the Singapore harbour to plant mines.
When the outcome of the war was no longer in doubt, the Japanese executed the men.
After speaking with a number of war veterans at the site, Will and Kate headed to airport and a flight to Kuala Lumpur.
On Friday, the couple has one of the more adventurous legs of their tour as they helicopter to Sabah's Danum Valley to explore the rainforest.
Kate signs the visitors' book during an official dinner hosted by Malaysia's Head of State Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah of Kedah on Day 3 of Kate and William's tour of Asia and the South Pacific. (Getty Images)