Kate Middleton delivers first speech, but media focus on blue dress

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, gave her first public speech at the Treehouse charity. But her sartorial selection was as big a story in Britain as her delivery. 

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Reuters
Britain's Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) makes her first public speech during a visit to The Treehouse a charity in Ipswich, England March 19, 2012.

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, made her first public speech as a royal Monday in Ipswich at the opening of a facility called the Treehouse, part of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.

The hospice is one of several British charities or non profit groups, including the Scouts and the National Gallery, that the Dutchess has identified as the focus of her attention.  

British media praised her speech Monday, for which the Duchess used notes but which she delivered slowly and clearly. 

 “The Duchess of Cambridge looked calm and confident as she gave her first public address today,” Daily Mail writer Rebecca English wrote. “Kate[‘s] three-minute speech was faultless -  made with a slow but measured delivery.”

 The Telegraph noted that the Duchess “appear[ed] understandably nervous at first,” but that she “delivered her maiden speech slowly and carefully, sticking precisely to her script, without any ad-libs.”

It was reported that she penned the speech herself

The speech made headlines in some British newspapers, including the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, for the dress the Duchess wore to the event, which reporters noted is one she bought in 2008 and appeared to be the same one worn by her mother in 2010 when Carole Middleton went to Ascot. The British media has been fascinated by Kate Middleton's, and her sister Pippa's, fashion choices. 

 During the Duchess’s speech, she said she regretted the absence of her husband, Prince William, who is finishing military training in the Falkland Islands.

 “What you have all achieved here is extraordinary," the Duchess said during her speech. "You as a community have built the Treehouse -- a group of people who have made every effort to support and help each other.”

 She noted the support the Treehouse and other East Anglia Children’s Hospices (EACH) facilities offer for families.

 “For many this is a home from home - a lifeline enabling families to live as normally as possible during a very precious period of time,” the Duchess said.

The Duchess is the royal patron of the Hospices, which helps families with children who have a life-endangering sickness. The organization provides therapy for the children, support for parents and family members and other services, offered at their centers or in the family’s home. The Treehouse will be the service center for Suffolk and Essex.

During her visit, she received a tour of the building and met children and their families who receive services from EACH, including 10-year-old Bethany Woods, who has been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Woods performed the song “Rainbow Connection” for the Duchess, who congratulated Woods after her rendition, according to the Daily Mail.

 A reception was held for EACH staff members and those who have supported the organization. According to the Daily Mail, the Duchess told another person attending the reception, “I find doing speeches nerve-wracking.”

 She also planted a tree at the facility in commemoration of her visit.

The Duchess has been the royal patron of EACH since January and is also a supporter of the Scouts organization, planning to attend camps with the Girl Scout troops in north Wales and London and assist with games. The royal family has traditionally been a supporter of the Scouts, and Queen Elizabeth serves as the association’s current president. The Duke of Kent, the queen’s cousin, is its patron.

 The Duchess also serves as a patron for the National Gallery, the organization Action Through Addiction, which helps those with a drug addiction and their loved ones, and the Art Room, a charity which attempts to help children’s self-image through art.

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