Kate returned to a favorite brand for today’s engagements in the London borough of Kensington, not far from her home at Kensington Palace.
Kate arriving for her first engagement.
The Duchess started the day with a morning coffee at Family Friends, a group that “recruits, trains and matches volunteers with parents, children or adolescents”.
Kate was given a bouquet of flowers by 2-year-old Ryan Dixon; he was somewhat shy, and eager to hold on to his mother, Tracy Samuels.
Sarah Ann Harris has more in this Daily Express story:
The Duchess was presented with a bouquet of white lilacs and nasturtiums by Tracy Samuels, a single mother who was helped by Family Friends.
Ms Samuels was forced to take over the role from two-year-old son Ryan Dixon after he became overcome by shyness. The normally boisterous toddler had spent all weekend preparing for his star turn but at the last moment ran away saying: “No, no, Mummy!”
Kate was unfazed by the hiccup and told the toddler: “I would be shy as well.”
The organization helps families living in disadvantaged areas of Kensington and Chelsea. Back to Sarah Ann Harris’s story in The Express:
Ms Samuels, who works as a care team supervisor at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, said: “The Duchess was asking how I coped after Ryan was born. I told her I was very depressed and I was even thinking about suicide, but my mentor got me right back on track. “She could see I’ve got my confidence back and self-belief because my smile is back.”
Another lady, called Marie-Christine, told the Duchess that the charity “literally saved me”.
The mother-of-three found safety in Britain after her family was slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide
Kate spent time with a family that has benefited from the services Family Friends offers (below left) and learned about the organization’s work from a volunteer (below right). Family Friends says its goal is to help families to help themselves.
Rebecca English of The Daily Mail shared a lovely photo of Kate at Family Friends.
Next on the agenda, a visit to Kensington Aldridge Academy in North Kensington.
Students were eager to greet the Duchess.
Below we see Kate chatting with students and school administrators.
The school has a focus on performing and creative arts, as well as growing students’ entrepreneurial skills.
An interesting note about today’s school visit comes via the news release about today’s event at Aldridge Academy:
Sir Rod Aldridge, founder of the academy’s lead sponsor the Aldridge Foundation, said:
“The Duchess, together with Prince William, opened our first academy in Darwen (Lancashire) in 2011, in what was one of the last official engagements they carried out before their wedding. We are thrilled that Her Royal Highness will be opening this wonderful new school in Kensington this month.”
Below, William and Kate at Darwen Academy back in 2011.
This part of the visit wrapped up with Kate unveiling a plaque commemorating her visit to the school.
Kate’s final engagement was just across the street at the new Kensington Leisure Centre; the Academy is actually on land where the previous Leisure Centre was located. Below, students awaiting the Duchess outside.
Once inside the Centre Kate was given a tour of all the new facilities.
Children from nearby schools performed for Kate.
Kate met people from different community groups who use the Centre, as well as Tai Chi students.
The young lady seen in the wheelchair above is a teenager named Martina that Kate spent time speaking with. More on what the two discussed from Richard Palmer’s story in The Daily Express:
“It’s moving all the time. I can feel it kicking now,” she told Martina McDonagh, 17,” while holding her tummy to show the disabled teenager. Martina, a wheelchair-bound pupil at Jack Tizard School in White City met Kate, 33, when the six months pregnant future Queen officially opened Kensington Leisure Centre in west London.
“I told her I hoped it was a girl but she said she doesn’t know yet,” Martina said afterwards. “She said it was moving around a lot.”
Kate chatting with Martina.
Both Prince William and Prince Harry took swimming lessons at the old Leisure Centre when they were young and attending the Wetherby Prep School nearby. During today’s ceremonies Kate, William, Prince George and the family’s second child were given lifetime memberships to the Centre. More from The Daily Mail:
‘The Duchess was talking about Prince William learning to swim here and she said she hoped Prince George can come here to learn too,’ said Tim Ahern, the council’s Cabinet member for environment and leisure.
‘If George goes to school at Wetherby or one of the other local schools, he will almost certainly come here.
The Duchess was also given a gift for Prince George, an inflatable duck, you can see her holding it in this frame of a video made by the Borough showing today’s activities; we put a link to that video in our ‘Linkage’ section at the bottom of the post.
The new Leisure Centre opens to the public in March. Below we see Kate as she is leaving the Centre, with thanks to Lucy Elliott Photography for allowing us to share their lovely photo. Standing with the Duchess is Robin Hannay, who presented Kate with her bouquet, and the Borough’s Nicholas Paget-Brown.
The Duchess wore pieces by go-to maternity brand Seraphine.
The Natasha is a 70% wool/ 10% cashmere/20% poly blend, done in a shade called “soft mist blue,” a color that is very flattering on the Duchess. The coat features a round neck, empire waistline, faux flap pockets, and large mother-of-pearl buttons. A look at the back of the coat.
If looking at the coat on the Seraphine website it is out of stock; it hasn’t actually been in stock yet. I’m not sure if the brand is taking pre-orders for the coat or not. If interested in it I would suggest emailing or calling Seraphine. It is shown with a $349/£195 price.
Kate’s dress was also by Seraphine; it is the ‘Florrie,’ another item from the spring/summer collection.
The Florrie is just above the knee in length, with short sleeves and a curved empire waistline. It is made of digitally printed crepe de chine, in 100% viscose rayon. Seraphine will be taking pre-orders for the dress beginning February 1st. It retails for $179 in the USA and £99 in the UK.
In terms of accessories today, we saw Kate’s bring back her suede Alexander McQueen heels.
And wore her Kiki McDonough Green Amethyst Cushion Cut Diamond Drop earrings. The earrings are currently out of stock at Kiki McDonough, but Astley Clark does show them in white gold.
This was a good look for the Duchess.
She looked happy and healthy and very comfortable in her role.
Hopefully no one minds the length of today’s post, there was an abundance of great photos available that I wanted to share. This one is also by Lucy Elliott Photography.
We’ll see you again on Wednesday.
- Learn more about Family Friends by visiting the organization’s website here, or going to its Facebook page here, looking at the group’s Twitter feed here; if interested in making a donation click here
- Click here to read about Kensington Aldridge Academy, the school’s Facebook page is here, and its Twitter feed is here
- Watch a 1:35 video from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea by clicking here; you can also read the Borough news release on today’s activities, click here for that info
- Simon Perry of People magazine has a video of Kate arriving that may be viewed here, Rebecca Engliosh took several brief videos today, Kate at Family Friends may be watched by clicking here and a second video taken by Rebecca at Family Friends is here
- Victoria Murphy’s story in the Daily Mirror is here, The Daily Mail story is here, The Daily Express story by Sarah Ann Harris is here and Richard Palmer’s story in The Express can be found here