The Duchess of Cambridge wore something blue and possibly borrowed in her first speech as an official member of the royal family, and reviews that poured in just minutes after her remarks indicated Kate hit it high into the wild blue yonder.
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With husband Prince William away on military deployment in the Falklands, Duchess Kate spoke at a children’s hospice in Ipswich, England, as part of her patronage of East Anglia Children’s Hospices. Her 4-minute address early Monday morning was delivered in a deliberate yet personal style that got a thumbs up from royal watcher.Video: Duchess Kate makes her first public speech (on this page)
Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter, for example, told the Canadian Broadcasting Association that Kate's speech was “short, it was to the point, she pushed all the buttons that needed to be pushed. As a first time, it was brilliant.” Sky TV's Paul Harrison said that Kate spoke with a "flawless, careful delivery."
Just as flawless — and possibly even more closely observed — was Kate's sartorial choice for her debut speaking engagement. Her electric blue long-sleeve Reiss “Trina” dress was regal yet modern, accented with a black belt, black heels and a matching clutch.
More than a few royal watchers noted that Kate's mother, Carole Middleton, was seen wearing the exact same dress at a public event in 2010, leading to speculation that Kate may have searched her mom's closet for the outfit.
During her speech, which marked the grand opening of The Treehouse hospice home in Ipswich, Kate turned on the charm, thanking the staff “for not only accepting me as your patron but ... also inviting me here today.” She then flashed a broad smile as she added: "I am only sorry that William couldn't be here today; he would love it here," while the audience laughed.
Kate had a much better time of it — and quite possibly an easier one — than her husband’s late mother had in her first speaking engagement. When Princess Diana gave her first address in Wales more than 30 years ago, she was thrown the challenge making her maiden speech in Welsh. Royal watchers said she talked quickly and nervously.
Of course, Diana was virtually thrown into the deep end as a royal — she became engaged to Prince William's father, Prince Charles, just six months after their first date. In contrast, Duchess Kate had a six-year relationship with Prince William before the pair became engaged in 2010, and speculation runs high that Middleton received coaching on public speaking before her Ipswich speech Monday.Video: Middleton shows off field hockey skills
While William is scheduled to return home later this week when his six-week deployment ends, Kate has been tested in the solo spotlight a number of times during his absence. Last week she visited Olympic Lark in London as part of her role as an Olympic ambassador in advance of this summer's games. And on St. Patrick's Day Saturday, she presented shamrocks to officers of the Irish Guard in Aldershot, England.
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