Proudly pregnant Kate Middleton undertook her first official engagement of the year on Tuesday morning – and used the occasion to speak about her pregnancy publically for the first time.
Asked whether she was nervous about giving birth to her baby in July, Kate told one well-wisher it would be “unnatural” if she wasn”t. With motherhood clearly on her mind, the royal was drawn to children present, particularly one little girl who presented her with a bouquet of pink flowers.
Kate”s appearance came one day after novelist Hilary Mantel described the mum-to-be as having no personality. But if the writer”s comments had affected her, it certainly didn”t show as Kate returned to work showcasing the growing tummy the world had been waiting to see in an elegant MaxMara dress.
Banks of photographers on “bump watch” awaited the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge as she began her visit to South London”s Hope House – an all-female rehabilitation centre which falls under the umbrella of her patronage, Action on Addiction.
Earlier in the day, the charity”s Chief Executive Nick Barton had defended his patron against Hilary Mantel”s comments, describing her as an “intelligent” woman.
He was one of the first to greet Kate who was deeply tanned from her recent break in Mustique. Shaking his hand warmly Kate, who previously paid a private visit th treatment centre, told him: “Its nice to be back here again”.
Before the engagement began, the royal had been warned to “expect tears” as she met with young women, some mothers, battling addiction problems. Herself now 19 weeks pregnant, their plight would have taken on extra significance.
With her burgeoning tummy swathed in her MaxMara number, the Duchess of Cambridge cheerfully greeted well-wishers who had gathered to welcome her. The grey jersey print dress with V-neck and ruched waist showcased her curvy figure and was the royal”s first glamorous piece of maternity fashion.
Manager Suzanne Hakimi was waiting to greet Kate at the doors of Hope House where she spent the morning meeting clients and staff at the 22-bed residential treatment centre.
When Kate became patron of Action on Addiction in 2012, Suzanne applauded her choice, saying: “It”s incredibly brave for someone who”s new in the royal family to take on a charity that works with the darker side of life, and also the lighter side of life”.
Amanda Thompson, research manager at the charity, predicted that Kate would find the visit emotional. “The Duchess has a heart and will certainly find it moving – it”s impossible not to cry,” she said. “These are heart-rending tales of what they have been through. It”s a gritty issue – it will be an emotional day.”