“She was so warm and down-to-earth”: Duchess Kate impresses at a charity appearance in London

The Duchess of Cambridge spent the day meeting with the families of sick children at one of the UK’s biggest hospitals.
Duchess of Cambridge

Mere hours after sparkling head-to-toe in an Erdem dress at a Buckingham Palace event on Monday night, Duchess Kate picked herself up and pulled on a new tweed skirt suit for her latest engagement.

The royal blue skirt suit, designed by Rebecca Taylor, was picked out by the 35-year-old royal for her visit to the Ronald McDonald House at Evelina London Children’s Hospital on Tuesday.

The 59-bedroom facility, which is located near to London’s South Bank, allows nearly 1,000 families a year to remain as close as possible to their young children as they receive treatment at the neighbouring hospital. The ‘home away from home’ is one of 14 houses across the UK that help to keep families together – free of charge.

The Duchess visited the admiral charity just hours after a sparkling event held at Buckingham palace.

She looked radiant in royal blue, one of her favourite colours.

Kate was presented with a posy by Isabelle, 8, whose brother Luke, 6, is staying at Evalina Hospital.

The 35-year-old beamed as she chatted happily with the young girl.

During her visit, the mother-of-two toured the new building, which opened in December, and met with a handful of families who are already benefiting from the much-needed accommodation. Among those with whom she chatted happily was brave mum Rebecca Bridges-Wheeler, from Epsom.

Rebecca, explaining the traumatic birth of her second child, Lewis, praised the Duchess for her empathy and down-to-earth nature.

“My waters broke so I was an in-patient for five days to try and keep him in for as long as possible but he decided to come out at 23 weeks,” Rebecca said.

“I got a bit emotional talking to Kate. It sometimes just rises up. She stopped talking and let me compose myself. You could see the sympathy in her eyes. She was so warm and down-to-earth. She seemed very kind-hearted and easy to talk to. She’s also incredibly beautiful as well!”

While in the kitchen of the £13 million ($AUD 21 million) Ronald McDonald house, Kate watched on as children busily decorated pancakes. One particular youngster, who happened to be Rebecca’s four-year-old son, James, piped up to enquire about the whereabouts of little Prince George.

“Where’s George today?” James asked. Kate laughed and replied: “George? I should have brought him. He’s at his Montessori nursery today making pancakes.”

James, who soon swiftly returned to his colouring-in, paused to warn the Duchess, “there’s a thunderstorm coming!” She replied: “Yes I know all about those. George likes storms too!”

Kate also spoke with parents Danielle Debono and Dion Mifsud, whose daughter Mia has suffered from renal problems since birth. Tragically, her kidneys have been removed which requires the eight-month-old to undergo dialysis every evening.

“It was only at Mia’s birth that they suddenly realised something was wrong,” Danielle told Kate. “We came here when Mia was three days old as it’s such a centre of excellence. We have to wait until she’s ten kilograms for her to have a transplant and she’s having one of Dion’s kidneys. She’s almost seven kilograms.”

The much-loved royal gave baby Mia a tender squeeze on her little foot.

At the end of her visit, Kate unveiled a plaque marking the official opening of the house.

“We were told she only had a survival rate of 10 per cent of living past her first month but she’s a fighter and she’s been amazing.”

Pulling from her own experience as a mother, Kate told the courageous parents: “Having a baby is a life-changing moment but for you having to go through all that as well is extraordinary.”

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