Kate Middleton goes solo for a speech with Prince William away

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With Prince William deployed in the Falkland Islands, the former Kate Middleton -- Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, since they wed -- has been bravely racking up several solo firsts.

Last month, she made her first major solo public appearance when she attended a preview of the Lucian Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Catherine marked her first solo military engagement with a visit to the Irish Guards, passing out shramrock sprigs just as the Queen Mother did in her day.

And now (drumroll) she’s given a public speech. OK, it wasn’t that exciting. What was notable about the three-minute speech at the opening of the Treehouse children’s hospice in Ipswich on Monday was that it was Catherine’s first solo public speech -- and she didn’t mess it up.


The duchess appeared a little nervous but poised as she gave the speech, which she’d composed herself. She didn’t rush but frequently checked her notes and began by apologizing for William’s absence, which brought some titters from the crowd.

She confided in her brief prose that she had had a ‘preconceived idea’ of how the hospice would be but saw that, ‘far from being a clinical, depressing place for sick children, it was a home … a happy place of stability, support and care.’

The Treehouse is run by one of the charities of which Catherine is patron, the East Anglia Children’s Hospices.

Catherine also is a patron of the National Portrait Gallery. During her February visit there, the duchess -– who majored in art history at St. Andrews University -- reveled in the work of Freud, one of her personal favorites.

Catherine had been prepared for another first at the gallery: As a new royal bride, she had broken with protocol, according to the London Evening Standard, by refusing to sit for a formal portrait. But with her patronage of the gallery, she has conceded and is now in talks to sit for her first official portrait.


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— Amy Hubbard