Monday 26 February 2018

Kate charms crowds on Grimsby visit

The Duchess of Cambridge meets Isobelle Laursen and Oliver Axcell, both three, on a visit to the Peak Lane Fire Headquarters in Grimsby
The Duchess of Cambridge meets Isobelle Laursen and Oliver Axcell, both three, on a visit to the Peak Lane Fire Headquarters in Grimsby
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives at the National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby
The Duchess of Cambridge meets residents of the nearby St Andrew's Hospice during a visit to Humberside Fire and Rescue Station in Grimsby

The Duchess of Cambridge joked with crowds in Grimsby after arriving more than an hour late and told fans they would be in for a long wait before she becomes Queen.

Kate, whose helicopter from Kensington Palace was delayed due to thick fog, was given flowers and gifts for her baby as thousands turned out to see her.

The Duchess, who is due to give birth in July and whose baby bump was visible beneath her chocolate-coloured three-quarter length Hobbs coat, visited a fishing museum, a fire station and a school in the Lincolnshire town.

On her way into Peaks Lane fire station, she made an unplanned stop to meet around 10 adults and children who were patients at nearby St Andrew's Hospice. Stooping slightly to talk to a group of women, who were wrapped in blankets as they sat in their wheelchairs, Kate shared a loud laugh with them. Claire Moss-Smith, 86, said she had said to the Duchess: "I'm waiting for you to be Queen." Kate laughed, she said, and replied: "You might be waiting a long time."

The Duchess arrived at Humberside airport an hour-and-a-quarter late due to fog, the Palace said, but looked unflustered as she stepped out of her car at her first engagement in Grimsby. She smiled as flag-waving crowds chanted "We want Kate", before meeting local dignitaries and taking a tour of the National Fishing Heritage Centre.

Former trawlerman John Vincent, now a guide, showed her around the award-winning museum, with its mocked-up 1950s high street complete with a traditional pub, which Mr Vincent showed Kate into. Mr Vincent said: "It's been fantastic, a great honour. She's a great lady. She was very knowledgeable and asked some very good questions. We had a bit of a laugh going round too. I wished her all the best with her pregnancy and asked her to give my regards to William and Harry, and bring them down here."

Grimsby resident Debbie Brown spoke to Kate during her visit to the museum and asked her how her baby was and whether it was kicking, the Grimsby Telegraph reported. Ms Brown said the Duchess replied: "Very much so."

On leaving the museum, the Duchess walked over to the waiting crowds, many of whom shook her hand and presented her with flowers and a teddy bear. Six-year-old Zara Williams had been waiting with her family since 9.30am to meet the royal visitor. Zara, from nearby Goxhill, presented Kate with a bunch of pink roses, and said: "She was really pretty. She was really nice to me and I liked her clothes."

The Duchess went on to Peaks Lane fire station, where she was greeted with more cheers. Once inside, Kate met young people involved with the Prince of Wales' flagship charity The Prince's Trust - the first time she had met people on the ground involved with the charity. Kate was also introduced to the fire crews working at the station and shown the fleet of fire engines. She was shown a fire pole inside the station and quipped: "That reminds me of the scene in the Bridget Jones film." In the movie, the character Bridget Jones is made to slide down a fire pole as part of her job as a television journalist but makes an ungracious landing on top of the cameraman.

After the 50-minute visit Kate was presented with flowers by local children, before getting into a waiting car to go to Havelock Academy, where pupils lined the route and waved flags as she entered. She was shown around the school, which opened in 2011, by principal Nigel Whittle and met students taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award - a programme that encourages self-development in young people through activities. The Duchess also watched as students painted lilies similar to the bouquet she held on her wedding day. She was then treated to a medley of Queen songs performed by the Academy's students before unveiling a plaque to mark the school's official opening.

Press Association

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