Kate Middleton is a natural with kids. After a very glam, grown-up red carpet date night with Prince William on Dec. 5, the Duchess of Cambridge got in touch with her inner child during a Friday, Dec. 6, visit to the Shooting Star House Children's Hospice in Hampton, England.
Dressed for the outing in dark blue skinny jeans and Reiss' gray "Delaney" coat — a far cry from her slinky Roland Mouret gown from the night before — Prince George's mum bonded with sick children and their families over nursery rhymes and arts and crafts. Following a tour of the facilities, she joined the kids for afternoon tea and was presented with a posy of roses by three young girls, Demi, Zoe, and Zofia.
The Duchess also took part in a music therapy session with music therapist Sarah Hodkinson, who strummed her guitar to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "Jingle Bells," and other favorite children's songs. Middleton laughed and clapped along, and even played with a little hand puppet made to look like a frog. An onlooker told Us Weekly she seemed "so at ease with the kids. They really lit up being around her."
One little girl — 5-year-old Demi-Leigh Armstrong, who had a kidney transplant after being diagnosed with a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome — seemed especially enchanted. She gave the Duchess a big hug after the sing-along.
"Kate was so sweet, absolutely lovely, and she really puts you at ease, because obviously you are a little tense to meet someone so important," Louise Wilks, mom to sons Shaney and Chesney, said of the visit. "She was down to earth but had a real aura about her…She asked me about my boys and how we use Shooting Star CHASE and I told her how they like messy play. She said she has just introduced George to messy play and what fun it was." (Messy play is a name for activities that engage babies in very sensory ways.)
Another mother, Nicola Dasilva, whose 21-month-old son, Frankie, has infantile osteoporosis, added that meeting Middleton was "amazing." She gushed, "It was just an experience and a memory I'm never going to forget with Frankie."
Another part of the visit involved the Duchess meeting some of the volunteers who give their time to hospice work. "We are honored to have welcomed Her Royal Highness to Shooting Star CHASE," Shooting Star CEO David Burland said. "The Duchess is a committed supporter of children's hospices and showed great knowledge about our vital work supporting children with life-limiting conditions and their families."
The Duchess become a royal patron of East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) after she married Prince William in April 2011. Shooting Star CHASE was actually opened in 2006 by the Duke's father, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
A spokesperson for Kensington Palace tells Us that Middleton plans to launch a new initiative to encourage more people to volunteer in hospices. "The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry is currently developing a pilot for a volunteering program to support families of children with life-limiting conditions," the rep says. "A key component of today's visit is for the Duchess to meet a group of Shooting Stars volunteers, to better understand how they support the hospice and its families."
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