Duchess delights Ipswich with first official royal speech

The Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge gives her first public address as a royal in Ipswich Photo: David Jones/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge has given an assured performance in her maiden public speech as a royal in Ipswich, praising a children's hospice for its "inspirational" work. Kate looked confident as she stood in front of staff and volunteers from a charity and paid tribute to their efforts helping children with life-threatening conditions.

The royal sounded a little apprehensive but nerves never got the better of her and she had clearly committed her speech to memory as she glanced at her notes only occasionally. The Duchess, the royal patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices (Each), was in Ipswich to launch the organisation's new facility - the Treehouse - where dozens of youngsters are cared for by dedicated staff.

Kate told her audience: "First of all, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for not only accepting me as your patron but thank you also for inviting me here today."You have all made me feel so welcome and I feel hugely honoured to be here to see this wonderful centre. I am only sorry that William can't be here today; he would love it here."She added: "What you have all achieved here is extraordinary. You as a community have built the Treehouse; a group of people who have made every effort to support and help each other."

The Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge at the East Anglia Children's Hospice in Ipswich Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

The Duchess received a resounding round of applause at the end of her address and smiled broadly at her audience. Kate then attended a reception for staff and supporters of the hospice and confessed to one guest as she touched her heart: "I find doing speeches nerve-wracking."The charity's chief executive Graham Butland said later that Kate had agreed to pose for a picture with a terminally-ill child and his parents during a private meeting before she planted a tree to commemorate her visit.He said: "She was absolutely magnificent with the children and families. She seems to have the ability to just drop into a group of people and immediately be able to establish a rapport."

The Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge at the East Anglia Children's Hospice in Ipswich Credit: David Jones/PA Wire
Duchess of Cambridge meeting a little girl
The Duchess of Cambridge meets a young fan during her visit to the Treehouse, part of the East Anglia's Children's Hospices, in Ipswich Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire