It's been quite an interesting few weeks for the Duchess both royally and personally. William and Kate celebrated their fifth anniversary and days later Princess Charlotte's first birthday. Following a successful royal tour of India and Bhutan, the couple welcomed the Obamas to Kensington Palace, and their 'Heads Together' mental health campaign was launched. We can expect to see a focus on this as well as participation in Her Majesty's 90th birthday later this month.
Hampton Court Palace has a fascinating history, providing the backdrop to some of the most turbulent chapters of Henry VIII's reign. Located in Surrey, redevelopment began to be carried out in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII. In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the King seized the palace for himself and later enlarged it. Along with St. James's Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by King Henry VIII. The King is said to have sent the first letter threatening a break with the Papacy to Rome from the palace. He later declared himself head of the Church of England after the Pope refused to annul his first marriage. Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, gave birth to their son Prince Edward at the palace.
|Hampton Court Palace|
Today, the Hampton Court is open to the public - a popular tourist attraction thanks to its history and close proximity to Waterloo Station. The structure and grounds are looked after by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces. The palace displays art from the Royal Collection, and other attractions include the huge grape maze and the historic tennis court.
The Magic Garden - the latest attraction - has been six years in the making, with an enormous amount of work put in. The Historic Royal Palaces’ gardens team have grown and tended to hundreds of trees and plants to create the garden’s magical landscape, planting over 17,000 bulbs and 3,000 shrubs in the garden.
Designed by RHS Chelsea award-winning landscape architect Robert Myers, the Magic Garden draws inspiration from the myths and legends of the Tudor Court, and offers families a new and unique way to explore Hampton Court’s past.
The Duchess met architect Robert Myers.
Hampton Court describes the garden as exciting and mysterious: "Populated by mysterious mythical beasts, with battlements to storm, towers to besiege, and even a secret grotto to discover, the Magic Garden is a new and unique way for your family to explore the palace’s past. Set within King Henry VIII’s former Tiltyard, where the elaborate spectacle of the Tudor tournament played out, the new garden takes inspiration from the fairy-tale-like quality of the Tudor Palace."
Those with children at home may enjoy showing them the 'Explore the Garden' feature which offers an interactive look at the garden. I suspect this is a spot George and Charlotte would have a wonderful time spending an afternoon.
|Hampton Court Palace|
Kate walks in the footsteps of King Henry VIII through the garden, where royal jousting tournaments were held.
The Duchess was taken on a tour around the new play area, and shown some of its unique features. Kate met those involved in the Magic Garden's design and construction, as well as children and families enjoying the new facilities.
Kate peeks into the Dragon's Nest.
One eight-year-old boy said Kate looked like "a very rich lady".
Kate told a group of children George would have loved the dragon, but he would be a bit scared.
Kate chatting with the children.
A couple of interesting nuggets from the visit. Kate revealed they have a hamster called Marvin. The Duchess said Princess Charlotte really likes Marvin because "the whiskers always tickle her face".
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When asked if she is a Princess, the Duchess replied "Just call me Kate".
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The Duchess asked children about the garden.
Kate met designers who worked on the project.
The Duchess attended a short reception in the grounds of Hampton Court.
And unveiled a plaque to celebrate the garden's official opening.
A look at the decorative cake made for the opening.
Next, Kate undertook her first engagement as Patron of the Anna Freud Centre by attending a lunch reception supporting the development of a new centre of excellence for children's mental health.
Kate was welcomed by Michael Samuel, Chair of the Trustees. Mr Samuel is married to Julia Samuel - who is Prince George's godmother and was one of Diana's closest friends. Prince William recently presented her with an MBE.
Ahead of the engagement the Palace said "HRH has a continued interest in drawing attention to child mental health issues and the importance of early intervention and working with the whole family to provide children with in-school mental health services. Her Royal Highness is keen to draw attention to the ways in which this charity is working to lead a step change in children's and young people's mental health care".
The Duchess also saw a short film about the ambitions of the organisation. The Anna Freud Centre is campaigning for a step change in children’s mental health. The centre of excellence is a key aspect of this work and is due to open in the Autumn of 2018 in Kings Cross. The centre will for the first time, bring together under one roof, the best people and organisations in mental health, education, social care and neuroscience, alongside children and their families. At its heart will be The Family School, for children aged 5-14 excluded from mainstream school, which combines mental health care and education. The Anna Freud Centre has embarked on a £10million capital campaign to complete the £34million funding required for the project.
|Anna Freud Centre|
Kate wore her Michael Kors coatdress today.
The Duchess debuted the piece on Anzac Day - the final day of the royal tour of Australia in 2014. The indigo twill jacquard swing coat featuring a full skirt and front flap pockets comes from the Spring 2014 Collection.
Several readers quickly noted Kate wore her Roksanda Ilincic 'Peridot' dress underneath. Kate first wore it in Los Angeles in 2011 and again for a GREAT reception in 2012. The light blue grey dress is draped to one side with cap sleeves and a pleated skirt. It originally retailed for £815.
Kate accessorised with her Mappin & Webb Empress earrings and necklace.
|Mappin and Webb|
Kate's new bag is a new Nina style in trench leather by L.K. Bennett (with thanks to What Kate Wore). In the photo below, we also see Kate wore her Cartier watch.
It looks like Kate completed the look with her L.K. Bennett Fern pumps.
You can watch a video here.
And a video from the Anna Freud Centre lunch here.
We'll see Kate this evening when she visits the NPG!